Editor’s note: We first met up with Jesse when he was mixing drinks at the Michelin-starred Ai Fiori. Now he’s working his magic behind the bar at Indian Accent, and we’re thrilled he’s dreamed up this cocktail just for us at Wine4Food.
With the spring equinox behind us, the weather is changing along with seasonal drinking attitudes. It’s getting warmer outside with promises of summer ahead. Sadly, depending on where you live, winter might not fully be gone quite yet – such is life in the north. As such, I want to offer you an in-between drink, one that will offer the brightness and exotic flavors of warmer months with a bit of the body and spice of colder months.
This cocktail takes a bit of prep time (a minimum of a week is suggested), but will make for an afternoon of good cocktails and with a bit of tweaking could make for a lazy afternoon of punch.
Makes: 1 cocktail
2 oz Papaya Rum blend (see below)
Scant ½ oz Lime Juice (right below the ½ oz line on your jigger)
¼ oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
2 bar spoons jaggery syrup (see below)
6 dashes Green peppercorn bitters
Freshly squeeze lime juice right before making cocktail. Add ingredients to shaker and shake until cold and the ice is chippy. Single strain into a small glass. I like the texture of the small ice chips. Double strain if you don’t.
Papaya Rum Blend
The backbone of this drink is a blend of Uruapan Charanda Blanco and Rum Fire Jamaican white overproof rum. Uruapan is what is known as Charanda, meaning red-color soil, a spirit from Mexico that got protected designation in 2003 due to its use of a particular variety of sugarcane, the red clay soil it grows in, and the local water. Uruapan is a blend of put still sugarcane juice distallint and molasses french column. I find it to be full bodied with notes of fruit, grassy agricole styles, and those savory notes you can find in Mezcals. It’s great on its own but I paired it with Rum Fire to give it the backbone for this infusion.
Rum Fire is the kind of hot that classic cartoons depicted with people getting knocked over drunk. This rum is packed with flavor and very tropical. Paired together the blend has a lot of complexity with lots of flavorful, but it a bit rough so we’re just going to let it sit on fresh papaya. The papaya is going to highlight the exotic notes of of the Rum Fire while pairing with the savory notes of the Uruapan.
3 parts Uruapan Charanda Blanco
2 parts Rum Fire
(e.g. 1.5 oz Uruapan to 1 oz Rum fire)
In a clean sealable container fill with chopped papaya. Cover Papaya in the rum blend, seal, and allow to sit for a minimum of three days.
*A note on the papaya: It should be peeled and de-seeded. A note on how ripe it should be – there isn’t a right or wrong ripeness level for this drink. Make sure it isn’t rotten and has at least started to ripen. Sniffing the base to check for sweet notes is a great way to make sure the fruit isn’t bland, which is key. If the papaya is somewhat underripe and cheesy, the cocktail is going to be a bit more savory and spicy, whereas a fully ripe fruit – or even slightly overripe – is going to be richer, sweeter, and rounder. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking lots of papaya-infused rum blends and like them all. I’ll the leave the decision to you.
Jaggery is the sap from tropical trees such as coconut and palm. If possible, get the completely dried kind. It’s great for subtle complexity and depth. If you absolutely can’t find it, demerara or grade A maple syrup are my advised substitutes. The following recipe applies to all.
2 parts sugar by weight
1 part water by weight
Cook on medium heat until incorporated.
Green Peppercorn bitters
These were developed to add nuance while complementing the flavors present in the cocktail. As bitter droppers very in dash size (I used a cocktail kingdom dasher for this recipe) be restrained in your initial endeavors. You want to notice the bitters lightly at the end of the drink.
2 tsp dried green peppercorns
2 tsp dried bitter orange
10 lightly cracked green cardamom pods
2 oz everclear
3 oz water
Allow the spices to to sit the everclear for a minimum of 1 week. Strain everclear off. Add the spices with water over very low heat for ten minutes before allowing to steep. Strain off water if it is short (cooked off, absorbed, etc.) of 2 oz – add water to the spices briefly to get the desired 2 oz. Mix water and everclear.