The past week has been Thai week here at Measure & Stir, and today we present the last post in the series, including our final Thai menu, and some tips and tricks that we learned through our experience. If you don’t already know, Thai week was a week of drinks inspired by the flavors of Thailand, made using only beer, wine, and soju.Theme weeks, it turns out, are fun, but exhausting. We held four mixing sessions over the last week in order to get all of the drinks where we wanted them. Not everything we tried worked, and some ideas just refused to pan out despite our best efforts. But we can talk about the outtakes another time. Today we want to focus on what went right.
The task was to make mixed drinks using Thai flavors, for Plumeria, a Thai restaurant in San Diego with only a partial liquor license. That’s why we were restricted to using only beer, wine, soju, or sake. Given the limited choice of spirits, our strategy was to infuse soju, which itself is rather neutral, with a slight hint of rice, with different Thai flavors or ingredients. We set out five infusions:
- Bird’s-eye chili and Lemongrass
- Lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves
- Mango and Thai basil
- Juniper berries
We also ended up making some Thai-inspired cocktail ingredients, like tea syrup, and mixing with Singha, a Thai lager.
Eye of the Tiger
Spicy and complex, with a strong burn from chili soju, and a sweet roasted flavor from thai tea. Our favorite of the bunch.
Live and Let Thai
With a dash of fish sauce, this drink had a coconut richness and an engaging tangy flavor of galangal and lime.
Tom Kha Llins
A beer highball taking a different approach to the Tom Kha trio of galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Very herbal.
Pseudo Rum Cocktail
Sugar cane infused soju, thai tea, and chili, each simulating a component of the flavor of aged rum. Like all soju drinks, it was a bit light, but it benefited greatly from the slice of fresh sugar cane in the garnish.
Bird’s Eye Julep
A Julep with Thai basil and Bird’s eye chilis. The basil pushes it a bit to the savory side. Very aromatic.
Along the way, we learned some valuable lessons in low-proof mixology. These tips are critical to ensure excellent drinks when mixing with low-proof spirits, like soju and sake.
- Shake or stir it half as much as when working with full proof spirits.
- Use burning ingredients such as fresh ginger, wasabi, or chili peppers as a proxy for the burning sensation of high proof spirits.
- Egg white mellows a high proof spirit; it murders a low-proof one.
- Fill your shaker with one giant piece of ice, instead of many smaller ones, to gain finer control over the dilution rate as you shake.
- Give soju infusions double the time and they’ll taste twice as fine.
And of course, always remember to strain your drinks through a fine-mesh strainer. It’s the dividing line between a bottom tier bar and a better one. I don’t have much more to say about these drinks. We have one more post tomorrow, talking about some drinks that didn’t make the cut, and then we can get back to whiskey and rum and tequila, sweet tequila.