When it comes to cocktails, I’m no mixologist but I do like to mess around with ingredients and try to come up with original cocktails for my future beach bar. As more and more beach bars pop up every day, trying to figure out how to separate yourself from the pack becomes essential. That’s where the cocktails come in. I want my future beach bar to be known for a lot of things, chiefly among them a place to go to get great drinks.
I’ve had the great luck of bellying up to a lot of wonderful cocktail bars and have learned a lot just by watching the bartenders in action and picking their brains when down time allowed it. One thing I learned is that some ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily think would work in a drink actually compliment it nicely and if you don’t try something different, you’ll be using the same garnishes as everybody else and nothing you create will be that original.
That’s where the Harper comes in. It’s one of my first original cocktails and I’ll be honest – I love it. It’s a gin drink (my preferred gins to use are Prairie Organic and Citadelle with the Prairie being slightly more full flavored and the Citadelle slightly smoother – the better the gin, the better this cocktail will taste) and includes ground cayenne (red) pepper and a slice of jalapeno as the garnishes. Sounds a little spicy, doesn’t it? Well, it is … at the end. Tossed into the mix of flavors is a homemade ginger-infused simple syrup. While the syrup takes a little bit of prep work, it’s worth it.
Why the name Harper? That’s easy – the drink, and each sip, starts off sweet but ends up a little spicy, just like the three year old who rules the roost at my house. I know – naming the cocktail after a toddler human is kind of tacky and a cop out but hey, if Hemingway can do it, so can I. Get a good whiff of the jalapeno pepper with each sip – instead of burning your nose hairs off, you’ll get a crisp fresh reaction that adds to the experience.
Yeah, your kid might be smarter but mine has a cocktail named after her … at the age of 3.
Ingredients and Instructions
2 oz. gin (see above for tasting notes regarding my preferred gins)
.75 oz. ginger-infused simple syrup (instructions on how to make this are in the video below)
.75 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
Combine ingredients in shaker half full of ice and shake until chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into coupe glass, garnish with slice of jalapeno pepper and a sprinkling of ground cayenne red pepper. Adjust the amount of ground pepper to suit your own tolerance for spiciness.