The Pepper Delicious #2

Mixology Monday 10: Festive OccasionI’d been planning to concoct a photogenic and tasty Kwanzaa-colored pousse café for this holiday edition of MxMo, but I was introduced to a drink this weekend that’s much more deserving of attention. It’s neither a traditional favorite nor easily prepared en masse, but I’m definitely going to be serving it in the coming weeks and beyond.

The Pepper Delicious #2The Pepper Delicious #2

2 oz. aquavit
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
6-8 mint leaves

Muddle the pepper, mint and simple syrup. Add lime juice, aquavit, and all the ice you can manage. Shake well and strain, floating a thin pepper round and a sprig of mint on the surface.

That’s right: a red bell pepper. Don’t knock it… it imparts an unexpected, fresh vegetal element and tints the cocktail a wonderful warm color. The garnish, along with the odd escaped flake of muddled mint, makes for a particularly Christmas-colored presentation.

Christian Krogstad of House Spirits Distillery was mixing these up at their open house on Saturday, employing his eponymous Krogstad Aquavit. Make it with gin, he says, and you have the Pepper Delicious #1. I assumed at the time that the recipe originated with Ryan Magarian as a vehicle for House Spirits’ Aviation Gin, but Citysearch informs us that the Pepper Delicious is on the menu at Canlis, one of Seattle’s premier restaurants, where they use Plymouth in theirs. Food and Wine Magazine thought enough of the Pepper Delicious to feature it in their list of top holiday cocktails for 2006. They attribute it to Canlis but don’t call the gin. Whomever is responsible deserves plaudits… I’d call Canlis, but it’s a bit late and the MxMo deadline looms. If you know (or are) the drink’s author, please comment.

Aquavit hasn’t been a stock ingredient in my bar, so I can’t say how the Pepper Delicious #2 fares with other brands, but the Krogstad has earned a place on the shelf now. I’ve tried a Pepper Delicious #1 with both Plymouth and Aviation gins, and in both cases it’s a somewhat milder affair. The #2, with aquavit, is a slightly hotter drink, whose caraway and anise notes nudge it just that much closer to a “holiday” flavor profile. With gin, it’s softer, and the pepper has a bit more room to show its influence. It’s an excellent drink in either incarnation — Ms. Thirsty favors the gin version — so don’t let an absence of aquavit stop you from treating yourself and those you love to one (or more). Go on… it’s the holidays.

Update: 28 other drinks for a festive occasion await your attention.

18 thoughts on “The Pepper Delicious #2”

  1. I dropped-in at House Spirits that weekend, and after tasting (that aquavit is wonderful, isn’t it?) had a brief chat with Christian that winded its way around to the Pepper Delicious. When Kevin of Park Kitchen (Ludwig, the bartender?) arrived, Christian indicated that he had developed the Pepper Delicious.

    Now this past saturday, I went by La Merde. On their (seasonal) drinklist is “The Delicious”, made from “Aviation Gin, Mint, Red pepper and lime served up”. I watched the barman muddle a slice of pepper, shards of mint, a wedge of lime. The straining was very fine or the mint remained in what looked like tiny slices (I doubt that the muddling tore it). It was very good; I was about to blog about it myself.

    This drink has legs. We need to get the “first edition” and the “best version” in the books before it takes-off.

    I’ll meet you at Park Kitchen sometime this week?

  2. I’m a bad foodie. I’ve never been to Park Kitchen. The PD doesn’t appear on their current drinks menu, but what’s this I see? The Salt and Pepper, which was also on the House Spirits cocktail menu. I’m guessing that page hasn’t been updated recently … they’re serving Medoyeff vodka but no Aviation gin? Pshaw.

    But wait…what’s this? Where are they getting those Genevers from? The OLCC doesn’t carry those! Grrrr.

    Yeah, I’m gonna have to investigate the Park Kitchen bar, no doubt. Just not this week… I’ve some last minute shopping to do. 🙁

  3. Thanks, Rick. I’ll pass that along — Ms. Thirsty was responsible for lighting and shooting this one; I just make the drinks. You may assume that any photo that looks half-decent is down to her kindly pitching in.

  4. The Pepper Delouse [sic] sounds like a hot drink, but I know for a refreshing, crisp drink try G’vine. G’vine is this new up and coming gin that tastes so good you won’t be able to stop talking about it. The gin is made of high quality grapes which is basically an alternative for vodka. G’vine web site has plenty of usefully information about there brand drinks.

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