The Thai Spice Martini is hot. As the name suggests, it is a Neo-Martini flavoured primarily with the kind of spicy ingredients you might expect to find in a Thai curry. Chilies, ginger and lemongrass, as well as lychees. As such I would only recommend it for those who enjoy spicy Thai food. If, like me, you can only deal with the bare minimum of chili spice, steer clear of it.
This is another Neo-Martini from the martini menu of the Martini Bar I used to work for in London. Since no-one I know claims credit for its creation, I consider it to be a House Cocktail. But it is truly nothing like the vast majority of other Neo-Martinis. They are typically fruity and slightly sweet while not too strong. This makes them highly approachable and often easy drinking.
The Thai Spice Martini shares a similar alcohol content and fruitiness. But its primary taste feature is its heat. This spiciness makes it so dissimilar to the otherwise closely related Neo-Martinis that any real comparison is difficult. And since spiciness is a feature not described by my Axes of Taste model, I have not produced a taste profile for this cocktail.
As you might expect, the core tastes of the Thai Spice Martini are Thai Spices. But only a select few Thai Spices – red chilies, ginger and lemongrass along with lychees. I always had a bit of a problem with this. Now I realize that we’re not actually making a curry here, but still, why omit other flavours integral to Thai cuisine? Like coconut, coriander or kaffir lime leaves? All of which we had available at that Martini Bar. I don’t have an answer to that. And although this cocktail does work very well, there is clearly plenty of further potential for making other cocktails based on Thai cuisine.
Nevertheless, red chili, ginger and lemongrass are what this recipe calls for. All need to be muddled quite fiercely before shaking.
When using chilies in cocktails, only ever use the flesh. The seeds push the cocktail’s level of spiciness too high for most people’s palates. And they also give a cocktail a slightly bitter, unpalatable tinge which is best avoided. If you want it hotter, just add another slice of flesh. You’ll also want to “peel” your root ginger to just muddle the flesh inside. And slice your lemongrass.
How much of each? That depends on how hot you want it. As standard I’d go with the flesh of one red chili, and an equivalent quantity of both root ginger and lemongrass.
The Thai Spice Martini is vodka based. Originally we went for a Pepper Vodka, but quickly realized that it was unnecessary and regular vodka will do. Similarly, muddling lychees or adding lychee liqueur didn’t improve the drink. So in the end we settled for lychee puree or juice.
Thai Spice Martini
The Thai Spice Martini needs to be shaken. But first your spicy elements need heavy muddling. So into your Boston glass you add: the flesh of one whole red chili; and a similar quantity of sliced root ginger and lemongrass. Muddle heavily. Then add two shots of vodka, one shot of lychee puree and shake hard.
Double strain into a martini glass or equivalent, and then garnish with a lemongrass straw. This is just one layer of a multilayered stick of lemongrass.