With apologies to certain detractors, who (probably rightly) insist that spicy drinks are best made from a base of vodka or tequila, I offer you a new cocktail, the Spanish Ginquisition.
I faced the strong temptation to be standoffish and include a garnish of Serrano ham or a healthy dollop of paella, but this drink was too crisp, spicy, and clean for me to ruin.
UPDATE: For balance, add a teaspoon or so of simple syrup between steps six and seven below.
- Three ounces of gin (I used Indigo, a Spanish gin, to be cheeky, but an even less obtrusive gin like Plymouth might taste better)
- A small serrano chile
- One half of a lemon
- A pinch of saffron
- A pair of toothpicks
- Over the flame of your gas stove or plumber’s torch, burn the serrano chile thoroughly, as if it were a non-believer several decades into his eternal damnation. You want the outside black and the inside steamed. Use a thin skewer or metal tongs to keep your hands heavenly.
- Let the chile cool, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and pale rib-flesh, imagining the scourging for inspiration. Take care not to let too much of the blackened skin flake off of one half, but scrape it off the other half completely.
- (Note: The picture at bottom shows the final result of steps three through five.) Cut or peel a long twist of lemon, fold one end over the other like a ribbon, and poke one toothpick through the point where the ends of the twist meet.
- Gently curl the half of the chile that still has its skin, widthwise and skin-side out, and poke one toothpick through the curl about a third of the way down the length. Leave as much room between the toothpick and the top of the arc formed by the curl.
- Thread the other toothpick through the semicircle formed by the first toothpick and the chile, and, finally, through the chile from inside to outside, near the bottom. Meditate briefly on this transsubstantiated chile, who died for your gin, then place Him in a chilled cocktail glass.
- Place the skinless half of the chile—or some portion of it, depending on how sinful you feel—into a tall glass, and squeeze the lemon over it. If you’re feeling very indulgent, add a some saffron for color. Muddle well.
- Shake the gin and chile-lemon mixture with ice, vigorously enough to cloud the drink, but remembering Aquinas, not so vigorously that your passion leads you into sin.
- Strain the gin over the chile, and float the saffron on top of the drink like so many tongues of fire.
- Serve immediately, whispering a benediction on behalf of your guest.