I watch in titillated anticipation as a field of small hairs on my body lift up; goosebumps follow, dotting my pale skin with a nervous and excited tell. My lips push apart to let my lungs take in a deep breath. The streaks of gold and green in my brown eyes shrink as my pupils grow – another tell and another chance for my opponent to see my hand.
A clammy paw tugs at the blue plaid collar hugging my neck; it suddenly feels tight, too tight. My slim fingers delicately, discretely slide one of the buttons from it’s cotton lock. A rush of cold air swirls around my neck. What a relief.
Still, I feel a ball of sweat form above my eyes. My breaths hasten. I can feel my heart racing, beating at my ribs. I bite my lip gently; the sensation swirling about my body, the pleasure taking over, is too much.
My back arches and I can’t help but close my eyes. The pleasure mixes with pain; I can’t tell if I like it or fear it. I savor every last second before I look down at the tall, slender glass and spicy contents that torment me.
I wipe my brow and take another sip. My lips burn with the capsatian sting of jalapeño and the smokey burn of the chili powder. My body reels all over again from the nip of a deliciously spicy and flavorful cocktail.
I’ve been a martini guy for as long as I can remember. And while I will admit the slender stemmed glasses do carry a sense of pretension, especially when enjoying one out, few drinks can get me as excited as the martini. Of course, bring up martini to a group of cocktail-obsessed characters and you’ll find yourself facing the now age old gin vs. vodka argument. Fundamentals and personal preferences aside, this is a cocktail that requires the martini original, gin. It benefits so wonderfully from a smooth gin – you get flavors and mouth feel out of gin you just don’t get with vodka.
The star of this cocktail is the spice though. Jalapeños are my favorite pepper, so getting to mix them into a drink was a no brainer. The thai basil adds a peppery herb bite to it and the grapefruit adds just enough citrus and sweetness to round all the flavors out. Mixed together, you get a wonderfully complex drink with flavors and spices that mix to create a refreshing concoction. With the sugar and chili powder rimmed glasses, the refreshing aspects are prefaced by a delightul lip burning spice and finish with the familiar capsaicin burn that envelopes the whole mouth. It reminds me a little of thai cuisine and as a drink it’s perfect.
Thai Bomber Martini
Yield: 2 martinis (4 ounces each)
Glassware: Martini glasses
Thai Basil leaves
1 oz. (30 ml) simple syrup (recipe below)
6 oz. (180 ml) Gin
1/2 oz. (15 ml) Dry Vermouth
Sugar, for garnish
Chili powder, for garnish
1. Spread the sugar into a thin layer on a plate larger than the rim of the martini glasses. Sprinkle chili powder over the sugar. Cut a grapefruit in half and lightly run the rim along the flesh of the fruit to wet the rim. Dip the rim into the chili and sugar on the plate.
2. Using the citrus reemer, make 8 long grapefruit strips. Place the strips into the shaker. Cut the jalapeño in half and add one or both halfs into the shaker (depending on how much spice you want). Lastly add the thai basil leaves to the shaker (I used about 20 leaves).
3. Pour the simple syrup into the shaker. Lightly muddle all of the ingredients together to release the oils from the zest, jalapeño and basil. Take care not to break the basil leaves up too much.
4. Add ice to the shaker. Pour in the gin and vermouth. Cap the shaker and vigorously shake for at least 30 seconds.
5. Strain and pour the martinis into the prepared glasses, careful not to wash off the rim sugar.
Simple syrup, as the name indicates, is quite simple to make. Making simple syrup is necessary to avoid granulated sugar from not completely dissolving in the drink. Simple syrup will keep almost indefinitely as well. I keep mine in the fridge though it is safe to store at room temperature.
Yield: 8 ounces
4 oz. (120 ml) sugar
4 oz. (120 ml) water
1. Add the water and the sugar to the pot. Heat over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid just comes to a boil.
2. Set aside to cool completely.
Russell is the boy behind the from-scratch baking blog, Chasing Delicious.