Drink of the Week: A Sting of Spring Is in the Air at Coohills

Spring Sting at Coohills
When Joshua Tallent thinks of Spring, he thinks of tequila. He also thinks of things like fresh herbs and pineapple, which is evident in one of his new cocktail recipes on his seasonal cocktail menu at Coohills. His menu launches today and features the Spring Sting ($9), which calls for tequila, orange liqueur, unrefined sugar and the fresh flavors of pineapple and cilantro. The “sting” in his recipe comes from a tiny hot pepper, which is cooled off a bit by raw egg white. This rich but refreshing cocktail is poised for patio enjoyment — and the expansive outdoor seating area at Coohills is only steps away from the bar.

Here is Tallent’s recipe:

1.5 ounces Tequila Ocho plata
.5 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce pineapple-cilantro shrub
.25 ounce Demerara simple syrup
.5 ounces egg white
1 Calabrian chile pepper

Tequila Ocho distills spirits derived from agave plants grown on specific tracts of land, which, much like the production of fine wines, yields flavors that are associated with those specific agave farms. Tallent uses the plata, or silver, tequila that hails from the Arandas region of Mexico’s tequila-producing state of Jalisco, at about 6,700 feet above sea level. The elevation is reputed to impart fruitier and more floral tequilas than lower-lying areas. “I love Tequila Ocho plata,” Tallent says. “It’s made at a high elevation in Mexico, at one of the highest at which agave grows.” This, he adds, produces flavors of pomegranate and peppermint in the final product.

For sweetness, Tallent makes a syrup from Demerara sugar, which is only partially refined. “I like the richness that it brings,” he says. “It has more of a molasses flavor.”

Next, Tallent adds Cointreau, an orange liqueur. Then the Spring Sting gets a heavy dose of spring flavors from a pineapple-cilantro shrub that Tallent makes by steeping fresh cilantro and pineapple in apple-cider vinegar. “I let that soak seven to ten days, shaking it every day,” he explains. “Then I boil it with about a half cup of sugar, let that simmer for about thirty to forty minutes, then put it back in the Mason jar, let it cool, and it’s ready to go.”

After pouring all the liquid ingredients into a shaker tin, Tallent adds an egg white, a Calabrian chile and ice. As he shakes the cocktail, the egg white emulsifies and the tiny, bright-red pepper is bruised, releasing its hot oils into the liquid. “The Calabrian pepper has a natural spice that’s about the same as a jalapeño,” he says, “but it doesn’t linger too long. It packs a great punch.”
The drink’s garnish also evokes thoughts of warm weather. Tallent skewers a chunk of pineapple, rolls it in powdered cumin, then roasts it with a torch, resting it on top of the glass. “It gives it a nice caramelization,” he says.

Try the Spring Sting with Coohills' pork belly ($31), which is paired with country ham, Bibb lettuce, toasted ciabatta, blood oranges and Dijon mustard. “The pork belly, paired with this drink, will bring out a lot of the natural flavors and smokiness in the pork,” Tallent says.

Whether you choose the patio or the bar, head to Coohills during happy hour, Monday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., when the Spring Sting is just $6.