Invented only months ago as Thailand's "signature cocktail," this drink is a unique surprise: the rich sweetness of the coconut, the sharp tang of the ginger and lemon grass and the subtle spice of the chili pepper mimic the complexity of Thai cuisine. The original recipe calls for a "coconut liqueur," which is nearly impossible to find in the United States.
Spirits columnist Jason Wilson recommends using Bacardi's coconut-flavored rum (though avoid Malibu's version of coconut rum). The original also calls for kaffir lime leaf, which is a nice touch, though unnecessary. Adding a little club soda seems to release more spiciness, but don't add much: just a splash on top.
- 2 small red Thai chili peppers
- 1 stalk lemon grass
- 3 quarter-size slices ginger root
- Kaffir lime leaf (optional)
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1 ounce coconut-flavored rum, preferably Bacardi
- 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup (see NOTE)
- Club soda (optional)
Cut a small sliver from one of the Thai chili peppers; reserve the rest for another use. Reserve the remaining whole chili pepper for garnish.
Remove the tough outer layer from the lemon grass. Use the flat side of a large knife to smash the lemon grass, then cut crosswise at the root end of the stalk to yield three 1/4-inch slices. Cut 1 thin sliver from the opposite end to use as a garnish.
Combine the ginger, 3 lemon grass pieces, the sliver of chili pepper and the kaffir lime leaf, if using, in a cocktail shaker; muddle to release the ingredients' aroma and flavor.
Add the vodka, coconut rum, lime juice and simple syrup, then enough ice to fill the shaker two-thirds full. Shake well for at least 30 seconds, then strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass.
If desired, add a splash of club soda. Garnish with the whole Thai chili pepper and the sliver of lemon grass stalk.
NOTE: To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a slow, rolling boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a glass container and let cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and refrigerate until chilled through; store indefinitely.
Adapted from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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