Earlier this week, we received an early Christmas gift from Laura’s aunts: a collection of The Bitter End bitters, made in small batches in Santa Fe, a city where Laura spent a lot of time growing up.
While we can’t wait to experiment with the other three bottles (a heady trio of Chesapeake Bay, Memphis Barbecue, and Mexican Mole), one flavor jumped out at us immediately as something we had to use in a drink—the Thai Bitters.
When we first tasted them, the Thai Bitters surprised us. They had all the elements of Thai cooking, with notes of galangal and coriander, but within a couple of seconds, we were both gasping for breath and reaching for the nearest glass of water. These bitters were spicy, too, thanks to a healthy dose of Thai chilies!
After making our guests a few rounds of Stocking Stuffers at their request, I started thinking about how best to use the Thai bitters. We wanted to make something that meshed with the traditional Thai flavors, but also wasn’t overwhelmed by heat.
Laura had the idea of using fresh pineapple and a chili powder-sugar rim as a way to cut through the bitters’ spice. We started by muddling about 6-8 pineapple chunks in a shaker, then added an ounce of the lime juice, 2 ounces of light rum and four dashes of the Thai bitters. After shaking, we strained into a coupe, rimmed with the sugar mixture, and garnished with a pineapple chunk.
The end result—a Mai Thai, a pun on the classic tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai—was a drink that still packed a punch, but with enough sweetness to soften the blow. Of course, unlike our recent holiday cocktails that are best enjoyed near a Christmas tree and a fireplace, this drink had us dreaming of being on the beach in Phuket. Isn’t that where everyone wants to be this time of year anyway?