Yellow With Envy
My friend Zane Harris bartends at
the outstanding neighborhood bar Rob Roy in Seattle Dutch Kills in Queens, New York these days, among other places. Besides being a great guy, he’s a constant source of inspiration on cocktails, spirits and hospitality. (Incidentally, of all the Seattle bars I love, and that’s a lot of ‘em, Rob Roy is probably the one I wish were in my neighborhood, within walking distance of my house.)
Zane is always challenging my expectations, and did so again with a recent visit to Los Angeles and a guest turn behind the stick at The Varnish, one of the L.A. bars I love. (I still enjoy quoting my friend Chris from Denver, after I brought him to that bar for the first time: “I wish that I had a wardrobe in my bedroom which, Narnia-like, would transport me to The Varnish on demand.”) Unfortunately the only recipe I remember from that night (when you’re drinking, write recipes down à la minute, you idiot, or you’ll forget them!) is this one, which Zane was kind enough to share with me.
Using Chartreuse as a base spirit isn’t something you come across all that often. It’s certainly powerful enough — 40% alcohol for the yellow variety, and a whopping 55% for the green — although most of the time it’s used in smaller quantities as an accent, given its even more powerful, even pungent herbal flavor.
One of my favorite cocktails is the Chartreuse Swizzle, a magnificent creation by Marco Dionysos with a whopping two ounces of green Chartreuse as its base. Zane’s drink uses the same concept — a tall, Chartreuse-based swizzle — but it’s the first time in my life I’d ever had a drink with yellow Chartreuse as its base. An additional boost to the spice is from a spicy peppercorn syrup, which would be pretty versatile once you’ve got it on hand.
Yellow With Envy
(by Zane Harris, Rob Roy, Seattle)
1-1/2 ounces (45 ml) yellow Chartreuse.
1 ounce (30 ml) fresh lime juice.
1 ounce (30 ml) fresh grapefruit juice.
1/2 ounce (15 ml) black peppercorn syrup (see below).
Shake vigorously with cracked ice until the shaker is too cold to hold (12 seconds or so). Strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Black peppercorn syrup
2 cups (400 g) sugar.
1 cup (250 ml) water.
1/4 cup (use a 60 ml measure) cracked black peppercorns.
In a saucepan, heat the peppercorns until they become fragrant. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer to remove all of the peppercorn particles. Add a splash of vodka as a preservative, bottle and store in the refrigerator.
Yield: About 1-1/2 cups syrup
NOTE: Zane may end up correcting me on the amount of pepper in the syrup, but this is what my pickled brain recalled from the evening.