The best Thai food, in my opinion, are the curries. Rich, assertive, and bizarrely comforting, many rely on coconut milk to soothe tender tongues from the welcome assault of hot chiles and heavy spices. Growing up in my house, Thai curries were a lunchtime staple, even though my hometown had the ethnic diversity of a box of Kix cereal. My mom, especially, just can’t get enough of the renowned panang curry at a local restaurant called Indochine.
I borrowed some of the flavor keynotes from traditional Thai curries to craft a signature drink for my mom’s birthday. A ridiculously easy chile, lemongrass, and ginger-infused vodka, lime, palm sugar, and coconut milk that gets finished with plain ol’ seltzer water. It turned like amazeballs, and I sincerely hope that you’ll give it a try. I know I’ll be whipping it out as a party trick for every guest that walks through our front door, even if it’s just to try and sell us a vacuum.
- 2 C decent vodka
- 4-6 Thai chiles, cut in half (more=spicier end result)
- 1/2″ chunk of peeled ginger, cut into quarters
- 1/2″ chunk of lemongrass, cut in half
- 2 C coconut milk (not coconut cream, just the milk)
- 2 C seltzer water
- 4 limes, cut into wedges*
- 1/4 C palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- lemongrass/Kefir limes/lime wedges to serve
- The day before serving, put the ginger, lemongrass chunks, and chiles into the vodka and swirl around. Swirl occasionally throughout the next 24 hours
- When you’re ready to assemble the cocktails, strain the vodka using a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and flavorings
- In a shallow bowl or pitcher, use a potato masher to muddle together the sugar and lime wedges to release the juice
- Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine
- Fill 4 large glasses with ice 3/4 of the way
- Pour 1.5 shots of infused vodka into each glass
- Fill glass the rest of the way to 2/3 full with the coconut milk mixture
- Top with seltzer to finish filling glass
- Stir with tall spoon or lemongrass stick, and adjust to preference by adding sweetness, strength, acidity, or watering it down a bit
- Garnish with aforementioned lemongrass stick, lime wedge, and Kefir lime leaf if you’re feeling fancy
*If the limes aren’t very juicy, you can add a few squirts of the lime juice that comes in the little plastic lime. I won’t tell a soul.