Thank you to the House of Suntory for partnering with Half Full and sponsoring this special edition of 10 Rounds
What inspired you to create this cocktail? “I was inspired by the modern classic the Penicillin. But I wanted to make something brighter and use vodka as a base. I pulled the drink’s smoke and spice out of the chipotle pepper instead of using the traditional peat smoke from Islay Scotch.”
When would you serve this drink? “I would serve this drink all day because it’s bright and light and super refreshing.”
What music would you pair it with? “I would probably pair it with the album by Haim called Days Are Gone.”
What food would you pair it with? “Something to complement the drink’s smoke and spice, but it would have to still feel light and fresh. A shrimp ceviche would be ideal.”
Name the person (dead or alive) you’d like to make this cocktail for. “I would make this cocktail for all my friends that I am missing so much, just so that I had the chance to hug them and say hi!”
What advice would you give someone making this drink? “You can control the spice in this recipe to your taste. The ginger beer is going to add a little heat on its own, so if you want you can cut back on the chipotle or increase as needed. This is also super adaptable and works really well with your favorite herb or any berries that are in season. You can add the fruit to the shaker or add it to the pot when making your syrup.”
Why do you think Haku® Vodka works so well in this recipe? “Haku is elegant and softly floral. It’s able to maintain flavor integrity when coupled with intense ingredients such as chipotle and ginger. The taste isn’t lost or covered up but instead melds beautifully with the other ingredients. Also, I love Haku because when I want a break from my cocktail it makes an amazing, premium Vodka Soda.”
How do you explain the recent rise in popularity of Japanese spirits in America? “With the resurgence of American whiskey and the Old-Fashioned, we saw a spike in the popularity of brown spirits and the craft behind whiskey making as a whole exploded in the early 2000s. The Japanese have always had great respect for the art of whisky making and a profound fondness for single malt Scotch. I think with the new found excitement over American whiskey and the admiration of classic Scotch making, the Japanese are able to use these influences, coupled with centuries of tradition in distillation and precision and create a whole new practice of creating phenomenal spirits.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “I read whatever spirits books I could find in the early days of my career (in the early 2000s) because at that point there were so few. David Wondrich’s Imbibe! is a given and should be owned by anyone even remotely considering craft cocktails. The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler I use for tips and cheats. Honestly, the book I use more than any other is The Flavor Bible. I give it to anyone I mentor. I use it every time I flip a menu. Really good bartending is very similar to baking in many ways. It’s about finding those genius combinations and then precisely recreating them over and over.”
What is your favorite piece of barware? “I adore my OXO Steel Angled Jigger. OXO if you’re reading this and you need a brand ambassador, I’m currently on the market.”
By Tonia Guffey
- 2 parts Haku® Vodka (Order on Drizly)
- 1 part Chipotle Spiced Syrup*
- 1 part Fresh lemon juice
- 1 part Ginger beer
- Glass: Rocks
- Garnish: Chipotle lemon wheel or piece of honeycomb
Add all of the ingredients, except the ginger beer, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass and fill with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish the drink with a lemon wheel dipped in the Chipotle Spiced Syrup or a piece of honeycomb.
- 1 Dried chipotle pepper (cut down the seam and seeds removed)
- 1 cup Water
- 1/4 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp Cinnamon powder
- 1/8 tsp Table salt
- 1 cup Sugar
Add the water and pepper to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the rest of the ingredients except the sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the pepper is fragrant. Add the sugar and stir until it’s completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and strain into a clean container.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
Haku® Vodka, 40% Alc./Vol. ©2020 Beam Suntory Import Co., Chicago, IL. Drink Responsibly.