For the past week, I’d been trying to corral a friend or two to join me in making another Cocktail of the Week (a feature on this site which I must rename because quite frankly “Cocktail of the Week” is entirely too unoriginal. I’m open to suggestions). Anyway, it turns out my friends all had busy schedules, and by the time Friday rolled around, I feared another week might come and go without an aforementioned “Cocktail of the Week.” Then fate smiled kindly on me.
I had been out at a club, and upon return to my apartment at 1:30 in the morning, I received a text from my dear friend Sly about the gentlemen suitors she had found herself surrounded by. We got to messaging each other, and being that the bar she was at was closing down, I invited her over to my place for a nightcap. She said yes.
Sly was down, and Cocktail of the Week was on. We were indeed about to engage in a spontaneous act of mixology.
And so at two in the morning, Sly and I convened to make a batch of Spicy Pepinos from Paul Abercrombie’s book, Organic, Shaken, & Stirred. Just what is a Spicy Pepino? Well, it involves cucumber, cilantro, jalapeÃ±os, and rum. I couldn’t imagine what it would taste like; hence, I had to make it. Pictures after the jump…
Before we start mixing our cocktails, Sly and I engage in a light, late-night snack of pita and homemade hummus. Clearly, we mean business.
First, I peel about half a cucumber and slice it up into six pieces (three per drink).
Next we must unveil the jalapeÃ±o pepper. There’s no accounting for how hot it will be. All I know is that when I buy jalapeÃ±os from the Korean market, they are violently aggressive. Meanwhile, japaleÃ±os from other stores barely seem to register on the Scoville scale. I don’t know why. This little guy is from Pavillions of West Hollywood.
Sly photographs my stovetop, which is in mild disarray following a smoking session earlier in the night. There was an incident, and as you can see, I got ashes everywhere. (And to clarify, by “smoking sessions” I mean “stovetop smoker session.”)
Showcasing my muddler. I named it Bette. Get it? Bette Muddler. I’ll give you a moment to let it sink in.
Our veggies are ready for Bette muddler’s attack.
The cucumbers enter the shaker first. From this angle, they look not unlike that girl at the bottom of the well in Silence of the Lambs.
From a distance, you can see Bette muddler pounding on the jalapeÃ±os (turns out they were supposed to go in first; hence the cucumber slices have been temporarily plucked from the shaker like Chilean miners and placed on the cutting mat for the time being).
Once the jalapeÃ±os have been sufficiently mashed, I then unsheathe the (soon to be controversial) cilantro which will be perfuming the drink.
The cucumber and cilantro then gets muddled with the jalapeÃ±os.
After I’m done with Bette muddler, I pour some rum into the shaker.
The recipe calls for lemon juice, but not enough to bust out the electric juicer. I instead rely on a reamer and my own strength — which is awe-inspiring and mighty, in case you’re wondering.
And now the lemon juice joins the rest of the ingredients.
Our old friend Blue Agave Nectar makes a return appearance.
A few tablespoons does the trick.
Last but not least, we fill the shaker to the brim with ice cubes. Now it’s time for action.
The pour (note that we are double straining the drink).
The color is beautiful, and already I can smell the cilantro. Good for me, unfortunate for Sly, who hates the herb.
The tasting… (Seriously, the cilantro “bouquet” is remarkable)
The verdict? Split.
I loved it. All the flavors meshed wonderfully for me, making it all perfectly drinkable. I didn’t find the cilantro flavor to be that overpowering; although, the drink certainly smelled heavily of it.
Sly, on the other hand, wasn’t a huge fan, but that’s because she’s a self-proclaimed hater of cilantro. People either like the herb or detest it, and if you’re in “like” camp (like moi), you’ll love this drink. If you’re in the “detest” camp, then all you’ll taste is dish soap.
That being said, the drink wasn’t a total miss for Sly. She did enjoy it more than the Jessica Rabbit, despite the fact that her hatred for cilantro is deep and unrelenting. Additionally, we both agreed that the recipe could have used more jalapeÃ±o. There definitely was not enough kick — Sly didn’t even taste any heat in her Spicy Pepino — and in the future, we’ll certainly add two or three more slices of the chili to keep things interesting.
Nevertheless, I was a big fan of the Spicy Pepino. Cilantro haters can probably omit the herb altogether (or maybe play around with an alternate of their liking) without affecting the drink too much. It’s definitely worth trying, and as far as I’m concerned, Organic, Shaken, and Stirred continues to have an undiminished record of awesomeness.