Monday, July 11, 2011

Local Drinkies: Thai-tini


This lovely savory drink is all locally sourced goodness, lemongrass, cilantro and Thai basil from Always Summer Herbs, Boyd and Blair potato vodka and a pickled asparagus garnish (Clarion River provided the asparagus, I provided the pickling). Here's how it's done...

Vodka sitting around (oh, I mean infused) with lemon grass
First things first, when you are making an infusion you've got to plan ahead. In this case, I cut and badly bruised (bad day, anyone?) several fat, very fresh, lightly peeled stalks of lemongrass. How do you beat up lemongrass? Put your boxing gloves away and grab a mallet, the handle of your favorite chef's knife or any other device you have around that might be good for inducing blunt force trauma. Why beat it and not just cut it? First, you want to release as many of the flavorful essential oils as you can, the oils that are just below the surface, so you want to break up and open as much of the fibrous material as possible. Also, if you cut it all into little pieces you are later going to have to fish out all those little pieces. Not fun. You want to leave this to sit around for as long as you have the patience to wait. This time I let it sit for approximately 2 weeks and my tasters said yum. But its up to you, longer means more flavor, shorter means you've got a good drink before you loose your temper.

The rest of this drink is simple, muddle a good handful of Thai basil (yes, it matters, find Thai basil) and  some cilantro, mix in a shaker with infused vodka, shake shake shake (ok, you can shake the shaker too) and pour through a strainer (remember those little lemongrass fibers?). You can garnish it with pickled asparagus, if you have me..., otherwise, think of other fun savory options. I stayed away from olives--first, they're not local (which was my game on this drink) and second I don't associate olives with Asian cuisine. Maybe you could find some pickled green beans or ginger (or maybe you could take advantage of the last of this season's garlic scapes), just go for something savory. Oh, how about pickling some red Thai bird chilis? Zow. And if you like things a bit dirty, don't be afraid to add a bit of brine to your drink.

Last step? Drink up, enjoy and forget the heat!