THE SALAMANCA

Intuition tells us that cocktails are invented on the back of their main constituent – the spirit that serves to stimulate the creative process.  In most cases I imagine this is true. However, in this instance, it was the ingredient with the smallest volume that provided the inspiration.

A dear friend of mine, let’s call her Fiona*, who had seen my bitters collection, took it upon herself to find something I didn’t yet have – Bittermens’ Hellfire habanero shrub. It’s hot. Very hot.

So, what to do with it? As you might expect, tequila came to mind initially, as the habanero chilli did end up in Mexico after travelling north from the Amazon. But what about the peppery purity of 100% agave mezcal (2 worms, please)? Hell(fire) yes! The other two ingredients write themselves into the recipe – lime juice of course, and to maintain the theme, some agave syrup, both of which broaden the impact on the palate. The proportions can be tinkered with as much as you like, but here’s what I’ve settled on, after a few tasting sessions:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2oz Mezcal
  • ½oz lime juice
  • ½oz agave syrup
  • 1tspn Bittermens’ Hellfire habanero shrub

METHOD

I build the drink in a shaker sans ice first, and then do a dry shake, as the agave syrup can thicken up and not combine with the other ingredients as well if it gets too cold, too quickly. Then I add ice, shake again, and strain into a chilled martini glass or coupette. Garnish with a twist of lime, or better yet, a double helix of twisted lime and chilli, and enjoy.

As you’d expect, this cocktail has a decent bite, and the tickle in the back of your throat lasts twice as long as it takes to finish the drink. But if you like hot stuff, this one’s for you.

And the name? If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, watch it. Now. Drink in hand.

*Name has not been changed to protect identity.