There are plenty of ways to warm up with a holiday cocktail without the use of piping hot liquids. This cocktail was inspired by the I.T., a drink we put on our original Metropole menu, with OYO honey vanilla vodka, lime and roasted jalapeño simple syrup; it’s so good that it’s still on our “secret menu” (so keep it on the hush hush kids). For the holiday version of this cocktail, I add apple cider and dark rum to the jalapeño syrup to help balance the spiciness, and to incorporate some traditional winter flavors. Jalapeño is the perfect amount of heat to keep you warm and cozy. I love recipes that seem as though they shouldn’t work but then turn out beautifully. Like candied Kalamata olives: it sounds so wrong, but it will blow your mind! Anyway, your guests may accept their cocktails with trepidation, but they will polish off every drop. Success! It’s an easy and fun way to stand out from standard holiday cocktails, so don’t be afraid of a little heat!
ROASTED JALAPEÑO SYRUP:
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
METHOD: Roast jalapeños either on your stove top or in your oven. For the stove top method, turn your gas stove flame on medium, or light your grill. Roast peppers one at a time. Spear the pepper with a long skewer. Hold the pepper 1-2 inches over the open flame, being careful not to burn your cute little digits. Hold the pepper over the flame for 60-90 seconds until the skin on one side chars and blisters. It should be mostly black, with just a few areas of green. Do not let the pepper catch fire, safety first kids! To roast in the oven, preheat your broiler and slice the stems from the jalapeños, then slice them horizontally in half. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Place the seeded jalapeños open side down, skin side up onto the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven, 3-4 inches from the broiler. Let the peppers roast for 3-4 minutes till they are charred and the skin is blistered. The skin should be mostly black, with just a few areas of green.
Once roasted, chop the jalapeños but keep the seeds, skins, the whole shebang. In a medium sized pot over medium high heat, add water and bring to a boil. Add the chopped jalapeños and seeds to water, then kill the heat and steep for 3 minutes. Strain the jalapeños out of the water. Put strained water back in a pot over medium high heat. Add one cup of sugar to boiling water one at a time until all the sugar is dissolved. Allow mixture to cool and stow in fridge.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
GLASSWARE: Rocks glass
GARNISH: Jalapeño slice, or lime
1 ½ oz dark rum (like Gosling’s)
¾ oz jalapeño syrup
3 oz apple cider
Build in glass without ice in order of ingredients listed, adding ice last. Drink and be merry!
PARTY TIP: You can pre-batch this cocktail by mixing a large batch of the jalapeño syrup and apple cider together. Store in a glass bottle or even in the bottle your apple cider came in. When your party starts, you can pour the mixer and just add booze. You can also make this into a fiery punch by following the proportions but just on a larger scale. For this I usually just turn the ounces into cups, and batch according to how many guests I’m expecting. I’m sorry – I actually batch according to how many and what kind of guests I’m expecting. (My friends like to partake in the sauce, what can I say?)
LIKE A VIRGIN: Make this into a zesty soda just by taking your pre-made mix of jalapeño and apple cider and add in soda water or, for a sweeter version, use ginger ale.
WITH A TWIST: You can adjust the spiciness of the syrup by omitting the seeds of the peppers. You can also make this into a vodka, gin or bourbon cocktail. If using gin, I would probably stick to something a little more floral and herbaceous like Hendrick’s Gin. For bourbon I would probably stick to high wheat bourbon, which has more caramel and vanilla notes and is a bit softer, like Maker’s Mark. If you’re afraid your guests are not so adventurous, this cocktail is also delicious with just apple cider. But I promise, while this cocktail certainly brings the fire, it’s balanced and distinctive.
Cheers, and don’t forget to spice up your life,
Your neighborhood bartender,