Thai’ing One On: A Mekhong Whisky Cocktail

Never has there been a year I wanted to be a celebrity less. Even in ‘09’s waning days, they’re still dropping like flies. Chris Henry, age 26? Brittany Murphy, 32? If I were famous, I’d lock myself in one of my estates and not come out again until 2010. And that’s to say nothing of the scandals. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to not get all caught up in the lives of strangers. It’s a long-running human tradition, after all. The ancients looked to the gods, who also squabbled and cheated and died too young. People studied those lives closely as cautionary tales, or sources of courage. This time of year, though, is the time to keep up with the people we know outside of our flickering rectangles. I just had a vegetarian friend in town and took him out to Pukk. My buddy really enjoyed being able to order freely from an entire menu. I really enjoyed the cocktails. (The food was actually delicious, too, so good that for once I didn’t miss the meat.)

Pukk doesn’t have a full liquor license, but they do an admirable job with sake and fresh Thai flavors. I spent a few weeks in Thailand a few years back, and there’s nothing like smell and taste to bring back memories. For the first time, the ubiquitous Thai whisky Mekhong is available in the U.S. “Whisky” is misleading: it’s distilled from sugar cane and rice spirits, so rum might be a better categorization. The company calls it “the spirit of Thailand,” and their website has a series of cocktails based on the liquor. I’m going to grab a bottle from Astor Wine & Spirits this week and serve a few crisp and sweet Lime and Pear Panyas. And I’ll toast the season this year with a little extra appreciation for being alive.

Lime and Pear Panya 2 shots Mekhong ½ shot elderflower cordial ¼ fresh pear cut lengthways 3 wheels of fresh ginger root ¾ shot fresh squeezed lime juice 1 bar spoon of sugar ½ Kaffir lime leaf (optional, for garnish)

In a mixing glass, muddle the pear, ginger, and sugar. Add Mekhong and the rest of the ingredients. Add ice and shake vigorously for 7-8 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Tear Kaffir lime leaf for garnish (place pieces on top of the drink), or fit leaf into rim of glass. Enjoy.

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