Mondegreen Lime at Pon Pon Bar
If Paul Garcia isn’t making cocktails at Pon Pon, he’s on the other side of the bar, spinning records. Garcia opened the arty cocktail lounge two months ago at 2528 Walnut Street, where you can listen to him play selections from his vinyl collection or enjoy one of his cocktails — or both. His love of music led to the name of a popular drink that he calls Mondegreen Lime ($12), a crisp gin cocktail tinged with the heat of jalapeño peppers.
Among his record collection, which he keeps behind the bar, there's an album from '80s band Prefab Sprout, which got its name from a lyrical phrase misheard by the band’s lead singer. Garcia learned that the common phenomenon is called a mondegreen. “It’s a misinterpretation of hearing something,” Garcia explains, “which becomes a colloquialism.” He became fascinated by the word and eventually used it in the name of his bracing gin cocktail.
Garcia infuses the gin with aromatic lime leaves to add a brighter flavor, much the same way that he infuses art into the ambience at Pon Pon. Here’s how he makes the cocktail:
3 ounces lime leaf-infused gin
.5 ounces lime juice
.5 ounces simple syrup
1 jalapeño slice
Combine all f the ingredients in a shaker tin, add ice and shake vigorously, which helps to pulverize the jalapeño and draw its flavor into the cocktail. Strain it into a martini glass and garnish the drink with a slice of jalapeño.
The jalapeño adds some heat to the recipe, but the gin that Garcia uses is quite flavorful to begin with. It’s made in Seattle by Captive Spirits, and is a London dry-style gin flavored with juniper, coriander, bitter orange peel, grains of paradise, angelica root, cassia bark, orris root, cardamom and Tasmanian pepperberry. To this, Garcia adds kaffir lime leaf, an ingredient often used in Thai cooking.
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To infuse the gin with the flavor of kaffir lime leaves, Garcia uses a quick method so that the infusion is ready in minutes instead of days. "I pour out a third of the bottle, boil it for about ten seconds, then take it off the heat,” Garcia explains. He adds lime leaves to the hot gin and lets them steep for a few minutes before removing the leaves and returning the cooled mixture back into the bottle.
“I like gin; it has more interesting properties than vodka. It has a pliability — you can put it in different cocktails,” he notes, adding “It’s a nice, presentable cocktail. It’s also a simple cocktail to make.”