The Pisco Kid And another new egg white substitute for cocktails!

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you’re visiting Los Angeles, or happen to already be a resident, and want to find a bar with a decent jukebox, I have a few I can recommend. There’s my beloved Tonga Hut in the Valley, The HMS Bounty in Koreatown, and then there’s Footsie’s over in Highland Park. I’m sure there are some more bars out there that have a great jukebox selection but these are my go-to’s. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments.

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI always have my favorite songs and will seriously put on $20 worth of music; alright, alright, I’m a total jukebox hog. Footsie’s in particular I always start with the Cisco Kid by War. I have no idea why, I just like to start my set off with that. I heard that song out of the blue the other day and have been reminiscing about jukebox playlists ever since. That song is also probably why I’ve created this cocktail.

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYou’ve read on here before my thoughts on pisco- it’s a versatile mixing spirit that I don’t think gets enough credit. I’ve also used the base recipe for a pisco sour to show you how you can use BEER! as an egg white replacement. Today I’m riffing on that theme again, making a cocktail that calls for egg whites without eggs. But this time we’ve got a fun new ingredient to play with: Instafoam!

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYou might not be a vegan but you might be someone who cringes at the thought of an egg white in a cocktail. Even though most bars are either using pasteurized egg whites or eggs from their own back yard chickens (I’m sure that’s a thing) to prevent salmonella from entering your cocktail. Still, I get it, you don’t want to drink the egg whites. So now you can give Instafoam a try. But won’t it just make the cocktail taste all chemically? NO! I know way back in the dark days when there was only Fee Foam you were going to get a weird aftertaste (and I’m not knocking on Fee Brothers, they were a beacon of bitters in a world that didn’t understand the need yet.) but here you just taste the cocktail.

So now you’ve got THREE replacements for egg whites in cocktails to either make your drink vegan, or just to avoid raw eggs: beer, aquafaba and Instafoam. OK, now onto the actual cocktail recipe.

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYes, this is a riff on pisco sour cocktail. We’ve got the usual culprits: pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters. However, we’ve spiced it up a bit with the addition of jalapeño jam. I often add marmalade or something of the sort to a whiskey sour just to give it an extra layer of flavor. Here it does the same with a spicy, slightly sweet bite with just a bit of earthy aftertaste from those peppers.

Note: if your jam is more on the solid side, you’ll want to break it up first in the shaker with a muddler to hasten the shaking time and to make sure it gets well incorporated into the drink.

2 dashes Instafoam
2 ounces pisco, Encanto used here
1 ounce lime juice
1 tablespoon jalapeño jam
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3-4 dashes of Angostura Bitters

In the bottom of a shaker, add your Instafoam first. Then pour in pisco, lime juice, jalapeño jam (see note above) and simple syrup. Fill ice 2/3 up shaker. Shake hard for about 20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass. Top with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Satan’s Breath

satans-breath-1At some point in the last 10 years I’ve developed a tolerance for heat in my food. I’m a sucker for foods that make me cry just a little. Those that I’ll sweat over but clean my plate (hello Thai food!). And the other day I realized maybe a cocktail could be just as satisfying with the right amount of heat. Also, I had picked up a sampler pack of The Bitter End Cocktail Bitters and I have been looking for a cocktail to use them in. I had sampled the Memphis bitters at Bar Keeper here in LA and with just one drop my mouth was on fire. Awesome.

My Tres Palmas cocktail includes some jalapeños, but they sit way in the back and don’t come out to mingle very much. What I really wanted was a cocktail that breathed fire.satans-breath-2

This particular cocktail took much more trial and error than I was expecting but I was determined to get the right balance of sweet and heat. The first batch I made with Gin and most of a chili pepper thrown in. It resulted in something akin to drinking MACE. Second round I subbed out the gin with añejo tequila, a much richer flavor, but still almost undrinkable due to the amount of pepper I had opted to keep in. There was also a missing element and I turned to the kumquats dying a slow death on my counter. That bite of citrus and a bit less hot pepper and I’d hit it out of the park.satans-breath-3

Be forewarned! As this drink sits it steeps and the heat develops more. So if you want to lessen that, use less jalapeño with no seeds, or just drink it very quickly. Your choice.

1-1/2 oz Don Julio Añejo Tequila
1-1/2 oz Cynar
2 slices of fresh jalapeno
2 whole kumquats sliced in half, seeds removed
1 hefty drop of The Bitter End Thai Cocktail Bitters

Muddle jalapeño and kumquats together in a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and fill the shaker 2/3 with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Sweet heat is a lovely way to describe this cocktail. The nose is all citrus with a touch of bittersweet from the Cynar. That sweetness continues through the first sip where the heat immediately kicks you in the back of the throat but then softens with a rich smokiness from the Añejo. Tequila and Cynar blend well making this cocktail seem less like ‘tequila’ and more towards something brown and bitter, with only subtle tequila hints. Besides heat, the jalapenos also provide a grassiness that makes the whole cocktail more of a bittersweet flavor overall.

Sweet, smoky, fire. What I think a devil’s breath would be like. Enjoy at your own risk!

The Tres Palmas

Recently we spent a relaxing couple of days out in the wonderfully hot Palm Springs, it was for my birthday, but really, everyone needed some time to veg out. My husband is not a big fan of heat, sun, or swimming pools so he volunteered to be the cook and cocktail maker and give me a break (in the cocktail area, he’s still cook around the house). This meant he could stay indoors in air conditioning and not let on how much he was sampling the drinks; not like I can judge.

So there was lots of nachos and guacamole and the like, requiring lots of cilantro and hot pepper scraps to end up laying about doing nothing. In a moment of brilliance the husband tosses some of these scraps into a tumbler of gin and grapefruit juice topped with champagne and hands it to me upon request for a drink to have on my raft. Now, he tried to convince me that he’s had similar drinks before, but I hadn’t. So as far as I was concerned this was a groundbreaking flavor combination, possibly due to the extreme heat and sun exposure and the several morning cocktails we’d already had (read: vacation drinking).

Since we’ve been back I’ve been wanting to make this again, only I had some ideas to tweak it a bit. I finally got around to doing it and with a couple modifications, I was able to encapsulate exactly what I thought the drink should be.

First thing I did was try it with the champagne, and then again without. In the end the float of champagne wasn’t helping anyone so I tossed that out of the recipe. Second, I added some lime in for balance. Then, I decided it needed salt. I have no idea where this desire to constantly dump salt on everything is coming from. I seriously should just carry around a salt lick so I stop ruining perfectly good meals. However, I had some fancy smoked salt flakes from Maldon that did the trick.

Tres Palmas was the name of the house we stayed at (it belonged to Jack Lalanne at some point in his life); I thought it a fitting name for the drink.

2 oz Gin (Beefeater was used here)
3 oz Grapefruit Juice (we had fresh squeezed in a bottle when we were on the trip so I used the same here. Feel free to sub in your own freshly squeezed by hand)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
4 Jalapeno rings
1/2 lime wedge

Garnish:
slice of lime
Maldon smoked salt flakes

Start with the salt rim. Use your lime garnish to coat a quarter section of the glass. Roll the outside edge in the salt, pressing hard to crack the larger flakes. Set aside. In a mixing glass, combine all other ingredients and shake vigorously with your metal tumbler (so rare I use the Boston Shaker on here). Pour unstrained into the rocks glass. Finish with the lime wedge garnish.

The drink has a nice balance of citrus that compliments the gin. However the cilantro leaves add unexpected flavor, in a good way, and the heat of the jalapenos gives it great punch. I love the nice bits of cilantro and jalapeno floating around in the drink. They’re awesome little flavor bites. And the smoked salt is just another unexpected layer to the drink that imparts a subtle smokiness, that, in all honesty, reminds me of a lovely salsa.

Note: Jalapenos can vary greatly in hotness and you should really decide how spicy you want to make this. One recipe I made I left the seeds in, and though it was VERY spicy (the way I like it), it was obnoxious to drink having all these small seeds. I’d suggest that if you want heat, leave a few of the seeds in. If you want less heat, scrape the seeds out altogether. No use making something you can’t drink.