Sometimes the cocktail gods just don’t smile on you – or, shall we say, the deadline gods arrive before they have time to – and that’s what happened with Remix this month. Never fear, there’s still a tasty drink at the end; it’s just not the one I intended to write about.
This issue comes out May 7, which eliminated both of the obvious May cocktail contenders (mint juleps for Derby Day; something tequila-based for Cinco de Mayo). Accepting that, I moved on with a plan for a Remixed caipirinha – and due to this year’s global lime shortage, aka Limepocalypse 2014, I’d thought I’d try one with Nagami kumquats (a gorgeous little citrus fruit) and a chili-infused cachaça.
Well, maybe next year: Kumquat season ends in April, so by the time this Remix came out, none of you would be able to buy kumquats. Starting to panic a bit, I thought, maybe mangoes?
There are mangoes to be had out there – I found Mexican honey mangoes at Publix and Haitian red mangoes at Whole Foods – but neither of them had much flavor. (The honey mangoes were pretty battered, and the red ones weren’t really ripe yet.) In the meantime, after just 24 hours, the quick-infused habañero cachaça I put together was so hot I could barely touch it to my lips. Oops.
So I had to punt. (Apologies for the seasonally inappropriate sports metaphor.) Sunday is brunch day, right, and what’s the official cocktail of brunch? I bought some organic mango juice and some prosecco, I quick-infused some vodka with those lethal chilies (half the peppers this time!), and I served up a mango-chili mimosa.
Unlike fortune cookies, cocktails don’t usually come with an embedded lesson, but this one did: You gotta roll with the punches and just keep swinging (hey, more seasonally inappropriate sports metaphors!), and remember, as long as it tastes good, you win.
3 ounces orange juice
1 ounce champagne or other
dash of triple sec
Pour the wine into a chilled champagne flute and top with orange juice; add a splash of triple sec and stir gently. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.
1 ounce chili-infused vodka
1 ounce Cocchi Americano
2 ounces mango juice
prosecco or other sparkling wine
First, infuse the vodka: Cut up two to four peppers of your choice — I used a mix of Serrano and habañero chilies – and place in a Mason jar with two cups of vodka. Set aside for 24-48 hours, but taste after 24; it may be hot enough by then. Once you’re happy with the flavor, strain out the chilies.
Measure the infused vodka, Cocchi and mango juice into a flute and stir gently; top off with prosecco. Garnish with a mango chunk, a slice of Serrano pepper, or maybe a fortune cookie.
Note: Taste your infusion and your mango juice before mixing, and adjust proportions accordingly, if needed; chilis and fruits vary in heat and sweetness. If the infusion is too hot, add plain vodka; if the mango juice isn’t sweet enough for your taste, add a dash of simple syrup.
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