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The Magic Number: Novel’s Jonathan Bush shares his recipe for a spicy summer cocktail

Jonathan Bush, bar manager at Novel, wants to wake up your senses.

His take on the Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail is a tongue-tingling ode to impending summer. While it may look pink and fruity in the glass, the drink packs a hit of heat from Sichuan pepper flowers and botanical Japanese gin.

The Magic Number (the “b” is silent) starts with a base of Roku gin. Made by Suntory, Roku combines sakura flower (or cherry blossom), yuzu peel, sencha tea, Gyokuro green tea and sansho peppers which, like Sichuan peppers, have a numbing effect on the tongue that can feel like pins and needles.

Bush incorporates Sichuan-vanilla syrup and Cocchi Rosa, a red wine-based apertif, to make a sweet and spicy cocktail that perks up the palate before or after a great meal. I can imagine enjoying one of these before digging into a hearty pork chop fresh off the grill as early summer twilight approaches.

The Magic Number

For cocktail

3 tablespoons or melon balls of watermelon

1 1/2 ounces Roku gin

1/2 ounce Cocchi Rosa

2 dashes of absinthe

3/4 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce Sichuan-vanilla syrup (recipe follows)

For garnish

Watermelon ball

Sichuan pepper flowers

Table sugar

Combine the 3 melon balls, gin, Cocchi Rosa, absinthe, lime juice and Sichuan-vanilla syrup in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously until cold.

Double strain into a short stemmed glass to remove all watermelon pulp.

For the garnish, shake Sichuan pepper flowers through a sieve to remove large pieces and allow the powder of the pepper to settle. Mix the powder with equal parts sugar and use it to rim half the glass. Pour the drink in the glass and garnish with a watermellon ball dipped in the pepper-sugar mixture.

Sichuan-vanilla syrup

1/2 pint water

1/2 pint sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper flowers

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Muddle pepper flowers to crush and sift out large husks. Add pepper powder and vanilla bean to syrup and let steep for 20 to 25 minutes. Strain out all solids and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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