Mango Sticky Nice
Shake the bottle of sake before measuring, then pour ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, shake for 20 seconds, then strain into a 12 oz collins glass filled with ice.
Garnish with a mango mochi ice cream.
Thai Coconut Syrup
1 cup organic coconut milk
1/4 cup palm sugar or brown sugar (I used palm sugar.)
1/2 tsp salt
Place coconut milk in a small, heavy pot and heat over medium heat until hot. Do not boil. Add sugar and salt and mix until both are dissolved.
Pour into a shallow bowl and place in refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. A skin will form on the surface. Strain into a jar and discard the solids. It should keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The farmer’s market down the street from my house isn’t fancy. It feels like what it is – a place where local farmers and vendors set up small tables to sell their wares on Saturday morning. Lucky for me, their numbers include a Thai food stand.
I’m not a curry-for-breakfast person, but when I see the owner deftly peel a mango in a manner I will later try and fail to replicate, I realize that mango and sticky rice is my ideal breakfast. At $5 for a whole mango, a heaping scoop of rice and a dollop of sweet, salty coconut milk, it’s enough for my daughter and I to split. As I ferry my prize home and tuck into it, I decide to craft a cocktail that celebrates it in all of its sticky, tangy, salty, umami glory.
Although I would love it if my cocktail were crafted with all Thai ingredients, my mind immediately turns to nigori sake to provide the rice flavor, and shochu to give it a little oomph. Nigori sake is a rough-filtered alcoholic beverage brewed from rice, and it is thick and creamy with a milk-like appearance. If you’ve never tried it with sushi, please do.
Shochu (called Soju when made in Korea) is a Japanese spirit usually distilled from either barley, rice, sweet potatoes, brown sugar or buckwheat. It must be below 90 proof, but commonly weighs in at about 50. Tombo Shochu is made in Vietnam from barley, which is not the rice-based Japanese spirit I was hoping for, but it’s all I can find. I appreciate the fact that, at 48 proof, it makes for an easy-sippin’ drink that won’t have your friends ushering you out of the party unless you have a LOT, which might be tempting.
To get the coconut flavor, I grab a can of organic coconut milk and heat it up on the stove. Based on this epicurious recipe, I add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but I cut the palm sugar back to 1/4 cup. I mix it until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved, which requires breaking up several hard bits of palm sugar with my fork. I pour it into a shallow bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. A skin forms as it chills, so I strain the syrup into a jar and discard the solids since I’m not crazy about lots of oil in my cocktails.
At last, three ounces each of nigori sake and mango nectar go into the shaker with one ounce of shochu and 3/4 ounce of my Thai coconut syrup. I give it a 20-second shake, then strain it into a 12-ounce collins class filled with ice. Finally, I reach into my freezer for the garnish, a mango mochi ice cream that winked at me at Whole Foods that morning (Thanks, Jeff Bezos). For the uninitiated, mochi ice cream is a Japanese treat akin to an ice cream bonbon, but instead of being held together by chocolate, it’s mochi – a Japanese rice cake pounded to a marzipan-ish paste – that surrounds the ice cream until you’re ready to eat it.
I make a small slit in the skin and place it on the rim of my glass, making Mango Sticky Nice the perfect summer treat. Kanpai and Chịyo!