I love cocktails. I covet them. And despite my obsession with attempting to master the art of cooking everything, for many years I simply couldn’t figure out how to make a drinkable one. I knew from watching the talented bartenders at my place of work, that they involved alcohol, juice and something sweet. But every time I tried to squeeze limes, boil sugar and water into a syrup and mix it all together with whatever poison was in my freezer, it always came out terribly tart, sickly sweet, or disturbingly boozy.
“Cocktails are the next frontier for me.” I announced to my boss Matt one day in the office. “I’m going to learn how to make delicious cocktails.” It was kind of an embarrassing thing to announce. After all, I had been watching our famous bar chef Christiaan Rollich create masterpieces for years. I knew what was in them and I knew how they tasted.
“It’s very simple.” He explained. “You should think of a cocktail as four parts.” A person with normal patience probably would have just ignored my stupidity and continued with their work. But Matt turned to me at his desk and explained in great detail the science of making a cocktail. “Take the classic gin and tonic, for example. It’s two parts gin and two parts tonic.” I hung on his every word. “A gimlet is two parts gin, one part lime juice and one part simple syrup. However, you have to be aware of the concentration of your simple syrup.” As he spoke I imagined myself in a mid-century modern living room, mingling with friends, laughing while sipping perfect gimlets out of vintage coupe glasses. It had finally clicked. Thanks to the most patient and knowledgeable restaurant general manager on the planet, I would finally be able to put the lovely silver bar set I had received as a wedding gift to good use.
So when my dear friend Elena came over for a Himalayan salt block pork chop dinner last week, I couldn’t wait to offer her a classic gimlet upon arrival. We sipped them as I cooked Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. But when we sat down to eat I noticed green bits floating in her drink.
“Did you add jalapeño and cilantro to your gimlet?” I asked, confused. “It’s not guacamole.” I reminded her.
“Yeah.” She said. “It’s so good.”
I had finally mastered the classic beverage and Elena added a hint of her heritage, making it even better.
Elena’s Spicy Gin Gimlet
yields 2 drinks
- 4 ounces gin
- 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 ounce simple syrup (recipe below)
- 1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves (optional)
- 4 ounces ice cubes
Begin by making the simple syrup.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Divide half of the ice cubes in two coupe glasses to chill.
Muddle the cilantro and jalapeño with remaining ice in a shaker. Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup to the shaker. Cover and shake very hard. Dump the ice out of the prepared couple glasses. Strain the mixture into the two chilled coupe glasses and serve garnished with a slice of jalapeño and a twist of lime peel.