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A Totally Thai Cocktail

 
By B.S.
 
Traditionally, the Thai population celebrates its national holidays and other important events over a few bottles of Thai beer or a shared bottle of Sangsom – Thailand’s brown sugarcane rum that is colloquially known as “Thai whiskey”. As far as a cocktail goes here in the Land of Smiles, Sangsom and Nám Soh-daa (soda water) or Sangsom and Coke is about as audacious as any mixed drink ever gets for the majority of Thai drinkers. Despite Thailand’s burgeoning wine industry, when asked which wines goes best with Thailand’s famous cuisine, one of Siam’s most notable chefs’ curtly retorted that, “No wine goes with Thai food.” 
 
In the absence of a world class Chonburi Chardonnay or a premium Phuket Pinot Noir all one is left with is Chang Beiyr, (Elephant Beer) Siam’s national brew or the aforementioned Sangsom Thai whiskey. Because both of these beverages lack the stature necessary to stand tall on a world stage, Thailand has literally been left scratching in the grit in regard to having a world famous cocktail that it can call its own. If you doubt this to be factual, just venture into a bar located anywhere in the world that isn’t Thailand and order a Sangsom and Nám Soh-daa. I’ll wager that the only thing you get in return for your most earnest effort is an odd look form the staff. However, if you were to repeat the procedure and order say, a Singapore Sling, White Russian, Blue Hawaii, or Long Island Ice Tea, your order will likely be cheerfully filled with alacrity, and without any questioning glances. 
 
Thankfully, the craze devoted to creating colorful cocktails to compliment a particular cuisine that’s currently sweeping the planet has sparked an interest amongst nationalistic bartenders and mixologists. To rectify Thailand’s need for a truly Thai adult beverage, indigenous cocktail chemists have more than risen to the challenge. They’ve combined traditional Thai flavors with spirits imported from the Western world. To their credit, several Siamese themed cocktails were carefully crafted, any of which, with a bit of luck, could take the global spirits scene by storm. A few of the contenders vying for the title of being Thailand’s number one “Totally Thai” cocktail are:
 
Mango Sticky Rice
If your desire is to imbibe something sinfully sweet with an ever so gentle kick, this refreshingly fruity cocktail inspired by what is arguably Thailand’s favorite dessert will meet, if not exceed your wildest expectations. Be advised that this drink is so good that you may find yourself later explaining, “But officer, I only had one drink … err, ahhh … twenty times.”
 
2 oz. Rice Vodka
2 oz. Malibu Rum
1 oz. Vanilla Syrup
1/2 Whole Fresh Mango
1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
Pinch of Black Sesame Seeds for Garnish
Coconut Cream for Garnish
 
Begin by setting one of the fresh mango slices aside to use as a garnish. Then using a blender, blend the first five ingredients until smooth. Upon completion, pour the results into a martini glass and top with a splash or two of coconut cream. Then drizzle a smattering of sesame seeds over the cream, and garnish with a fresh sliver of mango.
 
Phulay Sunset
When one imagines paradise, the sun sinking into exotically beautiful Phulay Bay in the luxury resort town of Krabi, Thailand is as apt a match as one could hope for. Therefore, if tart and tasty with a trace of gingery spice is what tantalizes your taste buds, this cocktail, who’s very name is synonymous with paradise, will more than suffice.
 
3 oz. Vodka
2 oz. Orange Juice
2 oz. Coconut Cream
Old Ginger to Taste
4 gm. Fresh Orange, pureed
2 gm. Fresh Pineapple, pureed
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
Orange/Pineapple Wedge for Garnish
 
Muddle (which is bartender speak for lightly mashing something in the bottom of a glass) the ginger in a glass. Mix the remaining ingredients separately, and then thoroughly stir in the ginger. Strain the combined components into a champagne flute and garnish with a fresh orange or pineapple wedge.
 
Thai Basil Mojito
The Cuban cocktail, Mojito is said to have been devised in the 16th century from a native Caribbean Indian remedy that was used to combat any number of tropical maladies. This ancient medicine was comprised of a crude form of rum that was literally called “fire water” by the Indians. The medicinal concoction was a combination of the fire water with sugar cane juice, lime juice and mint … which as it happens, are all flavors that perfectly compliment the signature flavors of Thai cuisine. By substituting palm sugar for cane sugar and slipping some fresh Thai basil into the recipe, any bartender can give this modern day tropical treat a distinctly Thai twist.
 
1 ½ oz. White Rum
3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Palm Sugar
Soda Water to Suit
1.5 Fresh Mint Leafs
1.5 Fresh Thai basil Leafs
 
Muddle the mint and Thai basil leaves in a rock glass just enough to release their aromatic oils. Next, add the required amount of rum, lime juice and palm sugar, and mix thoroughly. Fill the glasses remaining space glass to the brim with ice and soda water, give the whole a quick stir and it’s bottoms up.
 
Tom Yam Siam
Nothing says Thailand more than its signature dish of Tom Yam. The fragrance and flavors that the lemon grass and kaffir lime leafs impart is what makes this clear soup decidedly delicious. In case you were wondering, those herbs also blend extremely well with the sweetness of the locally grown tropical lychee fruit, and the coconut essence already within the Malibu Rum, both of which are key components of this Asian aperitif. 
 
2 oz. Vodka
1oz. Malibu Rum
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
3 pieces of Lychee, canned in syrup 
3 pieces of Lemongrass
1 piece of Kaffir Lime Leaf
3 thin slices of Red Chili Pepper 
 
Combine the first five ingredients, and pour over ice into a rock glass. Before serving, garnish the beverage with slivers of lemongrass and kaffir lime leafs, along with enough fresh red chili pepper slices to achieve the proper amount of heat that you or your fellow drinkers desire.