Umami Mart Barware
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As I mentioned last week, the theme here all month long is HOT HOT HEAT! And judging by the mercury-topping temperatures this week here in New York, it appears Mother Nature keeps up with this blog, because she's definitely doing her part to keep the theme as relevant as possible.

But unlike all the whiny crybabies out there complaining that summer's too hot (the same folks that complain winter's too cold) I'm all for it. The higher the temperature and humidity, the better. In fact, I only complain about the heat in three scenarios: 1) If I'm stuck indoors, 2) If I'm stuck in the subway station, and 3) If I'm stuck behind the exhaust pipe of a bus.

Otherwise I got no problem if the heat's coming directly from nature, like say, the sun. But maybe that's because I'm colored--or as my friends joke, because I'm from the desert. Besides, there's no better reason to grab an refreshing ice-cold beverage than when it's stank hot, so let's get down to it--but first, the CKTL Jam which took place at Astor Center last week.

Recently Pipeline Brands began holding a series of semi-annual events called CKTL Jam, which is basically a night of improv mixology, where bartenders jump behind the stick and jam out with an array of fresh ingredients and mixers, along with individual spirits from the Pipeline portfolio that each bartender is assigned (you can see a video of the first CKTL Jam here).

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This time around, the NY Chapter of the US Bartenders' Guild provided the mixologists, and yours truly got a chance to get behind the bar and flex some freestyle mixology.

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Hal Wolin of A Muddled Thought reppin' hard for the USBG!

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Maxwell Britten, who tends bar at Freemans, jams out...

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Every hour three different bartenders got behind the bar and mixed up drinks for the thirsty crowd using the available ingredients.  I was assigned Scorpion Mezcal, and when it was my turn to get busy, I came up with two cocktails, one I call the Cherry Pepper Margarita, and the other that's yet unnamed, which I'll share next week when it's properly Christened.

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Cherry Pepper Margarita
2 oz tequila blanco
1 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz agave nectar
6 pitted cherries
6 slices bell pepper
kosher salt for rim

Tools: muddler, shaker, strainer
Glass: chilled cocktail coupe

First moisten the outside rim of your glass with a piece of lime and dip it in the salt.  Then add the cherries and bell pepper together in the shaker and muddle well to extract the juices of both.  Add the remaining ingredients along with plenty of ice and shake well and hard, for at least 10 seconds.  Strain into your glass and drink up.

I'll be honest, I was pretty nervous about the drinks I created because I didn't have an opportunity to test them before serving, so I had to trust how they tasted in my head. Combining ingredients as varied as cherries and bell peppers would be either absolutely disgusting or divine; still, I figured the greater the risk, the greater the reward, and luckily in the end it all worked out as folks seemed to enjoy both drinks.

Hopefully by next week I'll have a name for the other creation and I'll be able to share it with you. I'll give you a little hint: it's got Sriracha.

*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.
Column: Happy Hour
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10 comments

  • Recipe looks tasty! I’ll try it this weekend.

    From the color of the photographed drink, it looks like you’re calling for a red bell pepper. Is that correct?

    Ouroboros on

  • Yah I thought it was weird that you first started talking about Mezcal, then just put “tequila blanco” in the recipe.

    What Mezcal label DO you like???

    kayoko on

  • Ouroboros – The color actually came from the cherries. In fact, I believe I used mostly yellow and green peppers. But really the color of the peppers do not matter at all since the muddling only extracts juice from the flesh, and not color from the skin.

    Kayoko – Mezcal would be excellent. Although I used Scorpion Mezcal, it’s not very smoky at all (not all Mezcals are), so that’s why I suggested a tequila blanco. I didn’t really recommend Scorpion either because truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of it.

    Paystyle on

  • Hooray, Pay! Cherries and peppers together are definitely HOT HOT HOT! What a peculiar combination, I’m def gonna try this. I wonder if Mezcal would be good too, to just add some smokinesss, and cut the tart from the cherries?

    Can’t wait for the Sriracha cocktail!

    kayoko on

  • Yo Pay, come on. Something I can afford!

    kayoko on

  • Del Maguey is really nice. Really expensive, at around $60-70, but really nice.

    Paystyle on

  • Congrats, Pay! What a cool event. I’d trust and drink anything that seemed like a good idea in your head!

    erin on

  • Well stated, my friend. Well stated.

    kayoko on

  • Try Sombra Mezcal, also good, and comes in slightly lower at around $45. But for Christ’s sake, sometimes you gotta pony up for some good shit and not look back.

    Paystyle on

  • Thanks Erin, that’s very sweet of you! Can’t wait for you to return so we can enjoy some cocktails!

    Paystyle on

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