Issue No.014 Whats up Thai-ger Lily?


ou may remember my minor obsession with one James Bond, handsome, smart, wears tight suits and always arrives just in time to save the day , he’s a manly man and quite tangibly could exist unlike a slew of comic book characters that bore me senseless. But as a supporter of equality I began to think about his female counterpart and apart from Mata Hari I could not come up with a worthy equal. Until I happened upon this movie for the Thai female Bond, she karate chops and kicks her way out of trouble whilst reducing men to dust with a mere batting of her eyelashes, I became an instant fan. The movie above in question I could not find with subtitles so I was left to make up my own story something like Woody Allen’s re dubbing of the cult classic “What’s up Tiger Lily”, if you’re not familiar its pretty much a story of a spy looking to find a secret egg salad recipe. Back to my Thai-ger Lily, for her I had to find an equivalent  signature cocktail to the Bond Vesper martini that would not stray too far from her cultural heritage, like James with his culturally correct London dry gin.

Thai cuisine uses a bounty of fragrant and pungent ingredients such as coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and  ginger , how to translate that yummy  bowl of Tom gai ka into your new favorite summer cocktail is just a few lines below. Hopefully lady Bond would approve of this message.

The arsenal of flavor kicks

Below is my collection of go to’s , Opal basil flowers as well as thai basil lend a heady almost anise like flavor , Ume plums (technically japanese) bring a tart sourness, Thai bird chilli gives an unmistakable karate kick to your chops, kaffir lime leaves intoxicate with their floral power and lemongrass for a refreshing note. Add in coconut and ginger and we’re pretty much set. Most of this comes from my local Japanese market, Mitsuwa,  which also sells a bunch of Thai ingredients, in NYC try Asia Market in chinatown for authentic un packaged ingredients.

eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 Toasted coconut

pre heat your oven to 450, line a basking sheet with parchment paper and toss onto it a thin layer of shredded coconut, place in your hot oven for about 5 minutes to start, you will smell when the coconut is ready to be turned over, it should be a lovely golden brown in patches, give it a quick raking to turn over any un-bronzed areas and plop it back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes or so.


eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith



My rule of thumb is that you need at least 12 hours to infuse anything properly if not using the sous vide method which takes about an hour. You can pretty much infuse anything I’ve included a shortlist of what each flavor works well with. Amount is based on one 750 ml bottle of liquid:

1 cup Toasted coconut+ scotch /pisco/tequila/rum/vodka/simple syrup

6 Thai bird chillis + tequila/vodka/pisco

10-15 kaffir lime leaves + vodka/gin/vermouth/saki/pisco/bourbon/simple syrup

10 halved ume plums+ gin/vodka/saki/pisco/vermouth

1 packed cup of chopped thai basil+vodka/gin/vermouth/pisco/rum/saki/simple syrup

1 cup of peeled ginger+vodka/tequila/scotch/rum/saki/simple syrup/honey syrup

4 stalks of chopped lemongrass+saki/vermouth/vodka/pisco/rum/simple syrup

you can speed up the process slightly by blitzing basil or ginger in a Vitamix or other blender, more oils will be released into your liquor this way. Depending on the heat of your chillis theres a good chance your infusion will be ready much sooner but if planning on using for a specific event allow yourself that window of 12 hours. Remember to strain out leaves if you choose to use the blender method.


King Khaohattan

This is my take on a Brooklyn cocktail which is itself a take on the classic Manhattan, instead of dry vermouth am subbing out a nice dry saki and instead of the maraschino I use kaffir lime infused simple syrup for the floral fruity notes.

1 1/2 oz Rye whiskey

3/4 oz dry filtered saki

1/2 oz kaffir lime syrup

1/2 oz  Bittermen’s Amere Sauvage or Ciociaro amaro

dash Scrappy’s lime bitters

eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

pour everything into your mixing glass, add a handful of cracked ice and stir till your mixing glass gets nice and cold, strain into a chilled coupette of your choice and garnish with a petite basil or kaffir lime leaf


Thai me up Thai me down

1 1/2 oz vodka or gin

1 1/2 oz thai basil infused saki or dry vermouth

1 oz lime juice

1 oz kaffir lime leaf simple syrup

2 dashes Miracle Mile Yuzu bitters

opal basil flowers to garnish

eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

take everything and toss into your boston shaker with 3-4 ice cubes, remember too much ice will dilute away your flavors, shake for a good 30 seconds or until a nice frost develops on your tin, strain into an ice filled vessel of choice collins or old fashioned glass works well . garnish with a tail of opal basil flowers, their scent will hit you in the nose as you drink so don’t remove when drinking, its all part of the experience.


Pina Cholada

My favorite place for Thai food on the west side of LA is Cholada, its a tiny wood shack situated on the Pacific Coast Highway that shakes every time a truck trundles past or the ocean winds get too high, the cooks there perform miracles in their  shoe closet sized kitchen , I salivate at the thought  of their kaffir lime fish cakes. Here’s my ode to wash it all down with , a twist on the classic Pina colada.

2 oz toasted coconut pisco

1 oz  thai coconut water

1 oz fresh lime juice

3/4 oz velvet falernum

3/4 oz pineapple syrup

1 oz egg egg white for your fluffy finish



eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

throw everything into your Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for about 1o seconds to wake up the egg white, add a couple of ice cubes and give a good shake for  30 seconds or so. Strain into an ice filled collins glass and spoon out some of the foam on top, finish with a kaffir lime leaf as garnish.


What a Goa!

Pretty much this is a play on the classic  unblended daiquiri , perfect for sipping on at the beach or in the beach of your imagination.

2 oz toasted coconut white rum

1 oz kaffir lime leaf simple syrup

1 oz fresh lime juice

6 cilantro leaves

1 dash of angostura bitters

eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

toss everything in your Boston shaker with about 4 ice cubes, no need to muddle your cilantro leaves the ice cubes will bash them enough to release their oils, shake for about 30 seconds or until a nice frost forms on your tin, strain into a coupette or up glass of your choice and garnish with a mint sprig


Enter the Dragon

This cocktail has become one of my party staples, every where I go someone asks for a spicy tequila drink, I add and take away some elements through time but what always remains is that fire breathing dragon of a drink spicy hot and fruity all at the same time, the recent addition of the coconut milk plays well to counterbalance some of the heat from the peppers.

1 oz Thai pepper infused tequila

1 oz white rum

3/4 oz velvet falernum

3/4 oz pineapple syrup

1 oz lime juice

1 oz coconut milk

eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

shake everything over ice in your Boston shaker, using about 4 medium sized ice cubes, again you don’t want to wash away the flavor, shake for about 30 seconds or so. Strain into a crushed ice filled glass either collins or bucket, top with a wee pinch of salt, some grated lime zest or a lime leaf.


Tako shandy

Of course I have to include a shandy, its the summer staple for me, light on booze, refreshing and goes great with food. The name Tako comes from the Thai dish Tako pudding which is jasmine scented coconut pudding. I steeped a tablespoon of jasmine tea in a pot of coconut milk over a low flame for about half an hour until it was well scented, strained and then stored it in the fridge till ready for use.

1 1/2 oz jasmine coconut milk

1 1/2 oz ginger syrup

1 oz lime juice

muddled lemongrass about 6 pieces

a bottle of Singha Thai beer

eye candy by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the lemon grass and syrup in the bottom of your shaker, add the milk and lime juice and stir briefly, pour into a mason jar and fill with ice, top with about 4 – 5 oz of your beer.


The Extras

Ginger syrup

peel and chop 2 cups of ginger

2 cups of hot water

2 cups of cane sugar

throw the ginger and water into your Vitamix and blitz for about 30 seconds, strain through a chinoise and add your 2 cups of sugar to the gingery liquid, stores for about 5 days in the fridge.

Pineapple syrup

peel and chop one pineapple, juice it if you have a juicing machine or blitz it in your Vitamix blending wonder and then strain off any pulp,measure the remaining juice and add half the  volume amount of sugar , this depends on how juicy your pineapple is . Again store in fridge for about 3 days max.

coming up next…….DIY liquers


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