This week saw the local final in Birmingham for GQ/Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition for 2014. The winner, Jack Wyrick, will go to Las Vegas in September to compete nationally. We took part in the competition ourselves, and though we didn’t win, we thought we made a pretty good showing. In the coming days, we hope to share recipes from some of the other participants, but today, we’ll give you our own concoction invented for the contest: The Bengal Tiger.
We began our brainstorming with a classic called the Aviation. One thing we have always liked about an Aviation is the velvety texture that the maraschino provides, balanced with the floral notes of the gin and violet. We wanted to create something that had a similar mouth feel and floral qualities but with more complexity, so we started by substituting Yellow Chartreuse for the Crème de Violette.
For additional herbal punch, we added a few drops of a fennel seed tincture. We’ve been getting fennel from our local CSA this summer, and we’ve really enjoyed experimenting with this versatile and flavorful herb.
The star of this drink is black pepper. Although regular Bombay Sapphire doesn’t include peppercorns among its botanicals, its sister product Sapphire East does include them. So we knew pepper would play well with the essential Sapphire flavor profile. We made a peppercorn syrup because the extra spice required a little extra sweetness for balance. Bombay Sapphire has a higher proof than other gins in the Bombay family, which helps it stand up to all these bold flavors.
We added the orange slice and additional fresh ground pepper as a garnish mainly for the colors. We named this drink the Bengal Tiger because of the yellow and black colors or the drink and because it has a serious bite. In addition, South India, including the region of Bengal, is one of the areas where black pepper is native.
To make this drink, there are a couple of things you have to make first, but we think it’s worth the work. Both the peppercorn syrup and the fennel tincture make good additions to a Bloody Mary, and we think there are plenty of other uses, which we’ll be exploring here in future posts.
Black Peppercorn Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns
Add all ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and you have a soft boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, then remove from the heat. After the mixture cools, strain out the peppercorns using cheesecloth and funnel into a bottle for storage.
Fennel Seed Tincture
- 1 cup 100-proof vodka
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
Add fennel seeds to vodka in a glass jar and keep in a cool, dry place. After 3-4 days, strain out the seeds. Funnel the mixture into a dropper bottle.
- 2 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce black peppercorn syrup
- ¼ ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
- ¼ ounce Yellow Chartreuse
- 6 drops fennel seed tincture
Add all ingredients to a shaker 2/3 full of ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with half an orange slice and fresh cracked pepper.
If you want to be cute, cut the orange slice in quarters to make tiger ears.