Sake Gumi
The Devil's Idle Hands

"Idle hands are the Devil's tools." -Some historic hotard

It's a rare thing for me to have down time these days, but after a very frenzied summer, I've stumbled upon a bit of unstructured time which quite frankly scares me. Naturally, I found a way to get into some trouble. Today's cocktail, which I call The Devil's Idle Hands, is the product of my mischief.

The name of this cocktail is inspired by the old idiom, “Idle hands are the Devil’s tools,” which is a reference to the mischief that is said to occur when a person has too much idle time on their hands. In this case however, the idle hands are the Devil’s own because I pictured the image of a bored and idle Devil taking a look at his liquor cabinet, and deciding to cause a little trouble by combining two spirits we don’t often see mixed together: Cynar, an artichoke-based bitter Italian liqueur that falls under the category of amaro, and tequila.

In this case I used a jalapeo-iñfused tequila, which is probably the type of tequila that you'd find in the Devil’s liquor cabinet. Add the balancing touch of the lesser-known Spanish Vermouth Perucchi Blanco, along with a few dashes of bitters, and you have something that’s truly the product of a devilish, idle mind.

The Devil's Idle Hands
1  1/2 oz jalapeño-infused tequila (I used Tanteo Jalapeno but you can very easily infuse your own)
3/4 Cynar
3/4 Vermouth Perucchi Blanco
2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters (used Bitter Truth)
1 dash Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
Lemon twist for garnish

Tools: mixing glass, bar spoon, strainer
Glass: chilled coupe or cocktail glass

In an ice-filled mixing glass, stir ingredients until well-chilled (at least 40 times, more if you have very cold, high quality ice). Strain into a cocktail glass and squeeze the lemon peel over and into the drink.

To make jalapeño-infused tequila, simply chop up some jalapenos, toss them in a jar filled tequila, and strain after a day or two, depending on your heat tolerance. Despite having idle time, I also happened to have a bottle of Tanteo Jalapeño tequila around so I used that instead. Although I normally prefer infusing my own flavors over buying pre-infused spirits, I think Tanteo did a decent job with infusing a spicy--yet not overwhelmingly so--jalapeño flavor that both tastes and looks natural. They also have a chocolate and a tropical version (combo of pineapple, guanabana, and mango), but the jalapeño gets my nod.

Now go stir up some trouble of your own!

*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


  • Craig – go online at Also just do a google search for cocktail bitters, hit the “google shopping” link and see which sites it takes you. Bitter Truth should be more available since they now have a U.S. distributor.

    You can find the A.B. Smeby Bitters on the company’s site:


    Paystyle on

  • The only bitters I can get are Angostura and Peychaud’s. Where do you find all these nifty obscure liquors and bitters?

    Craig on

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