Bar Manager, Pangea Kitchen
If you order Pangea’s Thai daiquiri, you’ll see a bartender mix together three things: Flavored rum, lime juice and a simple syrup. It looks pretty straightforward. But what you don’t see is the days we spent infusing that rum with the right combination of peanuts, Thai chilies and ginger to create the one-of-a-kind flavor that is our most popular drink.
Here at Pangea, we infuse our own liquor and syrups. Why? There are a couple reasons. The first one is, it just tastes better that way!
A lot of the flavored liquors that you can buy off the store shelf taste a little like medicine to me. There’s a slightly thick, viscus feel to them. (It leaves me feeling like I’ve just swallowed cough medicine!) Our infusions, on-the-other-hand, deliver the flavors while preserving a clean, clear liquor.
The other reason is, it’s nearly impossible to find drinks infused with some of our most popular flavors. Our Thai rum is a perfect example. This is a rum that’s been infused with peanuts, Thai chilies and ginger. We use it to make our Thai daiquiri. Our previous bar manager, Neal Kandel, created this drink because he wanted to serve something that was cohesive with the Thai food we offer. He experimented with various traditional Thai ingredients to create this signature drink.
I cannot buy a peanut-chili-ginger rum. And neither can you!
This particular infusion requires at least three days to make. I start by soaking the peanuts in hot water for a few minutes. When the oils are just starting to seep out, I drain off most of the water and add the peanuts to the rum. I let that mixture sit for about a day, then add a few chopped Thai chilies, and leave it to soak for another day. The final step is to add a little ginger (not too much, ginger is also spicy and it can easily overpower the drink). The mixture then soaks for one final day, and then we’re done!
The end result is a beautifully balanced liquor, with subtle Thai flavors, and just the right amount of heat — usually. As with all culinary arts, this is not an exact science, and I’ve had to learn how to do this well. All it takes is one chili that’s a little more spicy than you expect and rum is blazing hot. I’ve had to toss entire batches before. But, I learn fast, and I now taste the chilies before I add them!
Our other drink that utilizes house-infused liquor is the Benedict Cucumberbatch. (This one is my creation!) The Benedict Cucumberbatch is a spin on a traditional Gimlet. The gin is infused with Thai chilis, which sit for three days. What emerges at the end is a slightly spicy — almost fruity — gin that has a delightful green hue. We then add a cucumber syrup that we make in house by cold macerating cucumbers. (That’s a fancy word, that basically means we mix together sliced cucumbers and sugar and let it sit until the sugar pulls the water out from the vegetable. The resulting liquid is this deliciously sweet cucumber syrup that tastes as fresh as the day we sliced it.) We finish off the drink by adding a basil purée, that’s been blended with some of the remaining cucumber pulp.
These drinks are truly one-of-a-kind. If you haven’t tried them yet, I highly recommend ordering one on your next visit. They are delicious!