I’ve played around a bit with my base since my last post and it’s good. It’s fresh, savory, peppery and really fresh!
Now that my base is complete (almost – still have a few tweaks to make) it’s time to start talking liquor. There are a zillion ways to spin a Bloody Mary. The Red Snapper is essentially a Bloody Mary with gin standing in for vodka. There’s the Bloody Maria which calls for tequila and the Bloody Ninja which uses sake. Even bourbon has made the list as many up scale bars are turning to an American favorite with this classic drink.
But I’m going to stick with vodka – which may come as a surprise if you’ve spent even a little time on this blog. Why, with my vocal antipathy for vodka? To answer that question I should probably share with you my thoughts on tabasco sauce.
Tabasco is delish on tacos, or burgers or hot wings but in my opinion it shouldn’t be anywhere near a Bloody Mary as the distilled vinegar is just too pungent in the glass. Plus you add that to store bought Bloody Mary mix in which copious amounts of citric acid get dumped into the mix and the whole thing becomes overpoweringly acidic.
But I still want the kick. so if I’m not going to get it from Tabasco I’m going to need to sneak it in somewhere else. And I think I know how I’m going to do it. Jalapeños.
After much consideration and a little inspiration from a book on infusing your own spirits, cordials and liqueurs I decided to jump right in and make a Jalapeño vodka. I kinda did my own thing (what else is new) using the recipe for guidance and inspiration.
*Side note – the thing I like about infusions is that you can make smaller quantities rather than getting stuck with a full bottle of say Ancho Reyes that you don’t know how to use. I chose to make 350ml or roughly 1.5 cups – enough to play with without an excess.
We grown Jalapeños in our garden every year so having a few fresh ones on hand is never a problem. I pulled out three, cut them in half and de-stemmed them. I wanted to see if I could get a smokey flavor into the infusion by roasting a couple of the peppers at 170° for approximately an hour. Take all your peppers, roasted and non and put them into a non-reactive container. Add vodka and wait.
I added the seeds too, which from what I’ve read and seen on the Ancho Reyes website is a faux pas but what the heck? It’s all in the name of science.
The recipe I was “using” (if we can call it that) recommended leaving the jar in a cool, dry place for two days shaking twice daily. While I was prepared for a 48 hour wait after only an hour or two my curiosity got the best of my and I took a lil’ nip of the infusion… and damn near burned my lips off. I left it alone for another two hours before I pulled the vodka off the peppers and fine strained it into my serving bottle.
Now maybe I’m just a wuss or maybe adding all the seeds bumps up the heat without allowing the peppers ample time to infuse but it was hot! Hopefully it’ll have just enough heat to cut through the tomato base without overpowering it. We’ll see.
What I learned.
If I were to do it again – and who am I kidding, I probably will – I’d remove the seeds and go for a longer soak. I’d also like to try it with white lightening/whiskey as I imagine the soft, sweet corn flavors would play wonderfully with the heat from the peppers.
*Other side note – Even though I’m an American bartender I prefer to work in metric since cutting recipes is so much easier. The recipe below was transcribed as I created it – in mL. For more about the brilliance of metric click here.
- 3 Jalapeño peppers
- 350 mL vodka
- Non-reactive container
- Cut peppers in half, remove seeds & de-stem
- Place two peppers into the oven at 170 deg. for 1 hour. Let cool
- Add all peppers (and seeds if desired) to non-reactive jar.
- Add 350 mL vodka.
- Steep until infusion reached desired hotness.
- Fine strain peppers from vodka.