The Perfect Storm (PAGU)
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PAGU in Central Square serves both Spanish and Japanese cuisine, an eclectic focus reflected in The Perfect Storm. This cocktail takes Spain’s favorite drink—the reliable gin and tonic—and spikes it with tropical flavor via pineapple juice, plus heat that’s more savory than spicy courtesy of a Sichuan peppercorn syrup.
Not every gin can stand up to such strong competing flavors, but bar manager Savannah Weinstock found a winner in the form of Greylock Gin from Berkshire Mountain Distillers. Weinstock describes it as a bright, dry gin that can handle the acidity of pineapple juice, and believes its botanicals are well-suited to tropical flavors.
The mouth-numbing peppercorn syrup is countered by 18.21 Japanese Chili and Lime bitters, which Weinstock says are “a little more subtle and a little less punch-you-in-the-face” than the popular Hellfire or Ancho Reyes bitters. A final touch of spice comes from a chili thread garnish, which provides more than just visual appeal.
“As you drink the cocktail and the chili threads become wet, the cocktail becomes spicier and spicier,” says Weinstock. “It starts refreshing and becomes more spicy as you drink it.”
As for the drink’s name, Weinstock has a one-sentence response that’s hard to disagree with: “We need a drink to make people think that it is not the middle of the winter.”
The Perfect Storm
1½ ounces Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin
1½ ounces pineapple juice
¾ ounce Sichuan peppercorn syrup*
½ ounce lime juice
2 drops 18.21 Japanese Chili and Lime Bitters
Splash Fever-Tree tonic water
Dried chili threads, for garnish
Add ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a wine glass with ice. Top with tonic water and garnish with chili thread.
*Sichuan peppercorn syrup (yields 3 quarts)
8 cups sugar
6 cups water
50 grams Sichuan peppercorns, cracked
Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil for five minutes. Remove from heat, allow mixture to cool and steep overnight. Strain through a tea strainer or cheesecloth into a sealed container. Keeps two to four weeks, refrigerated.