Welcome back from the very busy holidays, all! Hope your precious time off was as much fun as ours was here...and there. We did travel!
While Kimber was home for Christmas, we were out and about Christmas Eve day doing last minute shopping - bet most of you were doing the same thing, yes? We paused for lunch at one of my favorite spots in the North Hills, Tamari in Warrendale. Kimber was in the mood for sushi, I was in the mood for Latin. Tamari just happens to serve (amazing) Asian Latin fusion. Score!
We sat at the bar - no surprise there - and while we perused the menu I enjoyed a lovely fresh apple and rum drink (wish I could remember the name), while Kimber sipped one of the best specialty martinis ever...a wasabi martini. That martini hit the perfect balance of heat and sweet and tart. That's what I'm getting next time.
Anyway....while we dined and enjoyed our cocktails, we chatted at length with TJ the bartender. Haven't you found a mutual interest in fine food and cocktails creates instant friends wherever you go? The ultimate ice breaker, for sure.
TJ described a margarita they'd worked on for a competition that used candied jalapenos for the garnish. Hmmm...I'd just candied orange peel for Christmas dessert...right then and there I decided jalapenos were next. So I made them.
Eureka! Sugared jalapenos aren't just beautiful, they are delicious! A simple syrup simmer mellows the jalapeno heat just enough to allow true fruity flavors to emerge. The sweetness evens out the heat just right. Now...what to do with them... (See the italics below...before drying, the balance was perfection...after...welllllll. Round 2 of sugared jalapenos will commence shortly. New method coming up.)
Bucking tradition, in order for the bite of jalapenos to not be overpowered by the zip of ginger beer, I used a gentle gingerale instead. The punch now came from the peppers, yet the ginger was still definitely there. Muddled fresh ginger helped bring the ginger forward without being too strong.
A brief simmer of jalapeno slices in simple syrup had left behind a nice spicy syrup and lovely spicy sugar remained from the sugaring process. You KNOW I didn't waste either.
Four new, beautiful Moscow Mule copper mugs sat gleaming and beckoning for their first use. They wanted something very special. Jalapeno Mules? For the alliteration, Tapachula Mules became the name.
A little background is apropos here. Tapachula, Mexico sits right on the Guatamala border and on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. That far south, you KNOW it's hot...and cool from ocean breezes. Kind of like the Tapachula Mule is hot, yet cool and refreshing at the same time.
The result? A new cocktail that's truly worthy of the new copper mugs. Next weekend's guests will be enjoying a real treat.
(Makes a cocktail to fill a 24 oz. copper mug. Scale back the recipe for a smaller mug or glass or have leftovers to seconds!)
In a cocktail shaker:
- 2 slices of fresh ginger, approx. the size of a nickel
- 3 oz vodka
- juice of 1 lime (1/4 c. approx.)
- 1 oz. jalapeno simple syrup
Fill the tin 3/4 of the way with ice, put on the top and shake until the tin is icy cold. Strain the liquid into a chilled copper mug for the classic presentation or into a chilled tall glass. Add fresh ice and top off the drink with gingerale.
Stir gently and garnish with a sugared jalapeno when I get the recipe to you! Otherwise, garnish as I did above with a lime wheel and a jalapeno slice.
NOTE: If jalapeno simple syrup is too spicy for you, use plain simple syrup.
Update: Okay....have you ever had a creation not turn out the way it was supposed to? Yeah. That's what happened with those beautiful sugared jalapenos.
The method I used called for the sugared slices to be dried in the oven on the lowest setting. The sugar melted in spots instead of drying. So I sugared those spots again. And they melted again. So I flipped them over gently and sugared again. And they....you get the picture. I would have used them anyway, but the drying process intensified the heat and threw off the heat/sweet balance. Arrrrggggghhhhhh. Back to the drawing board.
|Heat AND sweet! (before)|
|Jalapeno "fail." (after)|
The next go 'round I'll simmer the jalapeno slices in the simple syrup and let them air dry before sugaring and let the sugar set before storing. That should do the trick. Look for the post on the new technique very soon.
In the meantime, the Tapachula Mule is still awesome! Just the decoration needs to be reworked. So instead of making you wait for just an adornment, here's the cocktail recipe...the perfected garnish will follow!
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