While in San Francisco a couple of years ago, my husband and I dropped into Cantina, a funky little lounge next door to the Hotel Rex. With its lack of signage and the fact that it had only been open for a few weeks, only the locals knew about it at the time. These hidden gems are what I seek out when visiting other cities. Add to that their truly unique, inspired cocktail menu made with fresh ingredients and I was enamored. That night, the Laughing Buddha- a concoction of crushed ginger, serrano chile pepper, Hanger One Buddha’s Hand vodka and ginger brew- was the object of my affection. It had that nice little kick to it that I tend to enjoy, a little heat from the chile offset by the sweet and spicy ginger.
Always on the hunt for an exciting new cocktail, the Food & Wine 2009 Cocktail Guide never fails me when looking for inspiration. As I was flipping through the guide in search of a drink for a friend’s surprise party this weekend, I stumbled upon an entire chapter of pitcher drinks from non other than Duggan McDonnell, owner of Cantina!
This recipe using Tabasco and Pimm’s No. 1 (which has become a favorite in our house this summer) was calling my name. It was meant to be shared, but I will be honest- I was a little greedy with it. (I wasn’t purposely hiding it in the fridge indoors when all of the other cocktails were in the coolers outside. Really, I wasn’t.)
I wasn’t completely hoggish, I did at least share with the birthday boy, and he LOVED it! I also gave out a few sips to other guests and enjoyed seeing the look of surprise on people’s faces when that tickle of heat hit the back of their throat.
12 oz of vodka
4 oz of Pimm's No. 1
8 oz of fresh lemon juice
4 oz of simple syrup
1/2 Tbsp Tabasco
8 oz of chilled 7-Up*
Thin lemon wheels, for garnish (optional)
In a large resealable container, combine all of the ingredients except ice, 7-Up, and the lemon wheels. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Cover tightly and shake, then pour into an ice filled pitcher. Strain into ice-filled rocks glasses, stir in the 7-Up and garnish with lemon wheels.
For those of you who love spicy as much as I do, you might even want to sprinkle a dab of cayenne pepper in your glass. The drink definitely already has some heat, but that'll make it a scorcher!
*Note: I made just a couple of slight adjustments to the final product before serving. When I transferred the chilled lemon/vodka mixture to the pitcher, I also went ahead and added the 7 Up. After taking a sip, I determined that it was just a bit too tart for my tastes, so I added a little more 7-Up, probably about 2 or 3 more ounces.