Some cocktails are so special, that long after the last sip - and sometimes even after the bar of its invention has closed its doors - you can still taste the art of true balance in your palate's memory. This is the case with Portland's Colosso [R.I.P.] signature crowd-pleaser the Zirkpatrick: A blend of spicy black pepper-infused tequila, Cointreau, and fresh lime and pomegranite juices, served on the rocks in a salt-rimmed old fashioned. Different, but somewhat simple; a twist on a margarita, sure. But it's all proportion here. Just enough spicy, salty, sweet, sour and bitter to leave your tongue too exhausted for umami. I crave the Zirkpatrick regularly. And cravings for what you can not attain leads to research, and emulation.
On black pepper infusion, I learned the Zirkpatrick is not dissimilar to popular cocktail the Red and the Black at Peter Hoffman's Savoy and Back Forty in NYC. Hoffman uses fresh strawberries in place of the pomegranite (which sounds too sweet to me) and a black pepper simple syrup rather than liquor infusion. While researching I also came across this recipe for black pepper infusion - but in the opposite sense - infusing black peppercorns with liquor, drying, then grinding the enhanced seasoning in customary manner.
Hmm, note to self.
Set on a new quest to create a cocktail that evokes my hometown, Tucson --AKA "The Old Pueblo"-- but in the spirit of the Zirkpatrick, I planned my tequila infusion and recipe tweakage accordingly (and appropriate as it may be, I did not infuse my batch with rattlesnake).
• 1 1/2 oz. black pepper/jalapeño-infused tequila
• 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
• 1/4 oz. fresh tangerine juice
• 1/4 oz. Cointreau
• 1/4 oz. Prickly Pear syrup
Slice jalapeño in half lengthwise, de-seed it, and put in a large glass container. Pour about a 1/2 cup of black peppercorns in with the jalapeño halves. Pour in one 750-mL bottle of reposado tequila (inexpensive, but something you would still drink plain).
Seal container. Let it rest for 24 to 60 hours. As soon as the first 24 hours have passed, taste it frequently; as soon as you get a hint that the jalapeño might be taking over the other flavors, strain through a double layer of cheesecloth. (Dry out tequila'd peppercorns for later use!)
On a small plate, mix raw sugar with finely ground black pepper and kosher salt. Moisten the outer rims of glasses with lime and coat lightly with the pepper-sugar-salt mixture. Garnish with chili-powdered lime wheels.
Combine cocktail ingredients in shaker, s-s-shake, and pour into the prepared glasses and serve at once. Spicy!
Next up: Star Anise-infused rum for Tiki Season!