Thai Tiger

The weather is absolutely perfect for drinking, so I put the dog on a leash and meet a friend at Thai Sticks (4319 Montrose, 713-529-4500). As we settle into the patio, our waiter Nathan suggests a Thai tiger, and we take him up on it. Sitting at a table on the sidewalk, we tap our martinis in the cool air as the busy afternoon traffic passes. The first sip pleasantly sweetens the tip of my tongue and then turns into fire as it goes into my belly. I feel a tingle in my spine, as if some demon just found a new host there. Maybe it's Thai moonshine I'm drinking -- all I know is it's not three o'clock, and I feel high. Nathan asks how we're doing, and I point at the drink and say, "What the hell's in this thing?" He rattles off a list of ingredients that sounds more like a potion for immorality than a recipe for a cocktail. The Thai tiger is not for the weak. My fire-breathing companion and I finish our spicy drinks, and then we venture on.

4 ounces prik-infused McCormick vodka
2 ounces ginger-lemongrass sweet & sour mix

To infuse the vodka, mix a half-pint bottle of vodka with four prik peppers (found in Asian markets) and let sit for 24 hours. To make the sweet & sour mix, macerate one stalk of lemongrass and a three-ounce piece of fresh ginger, then stir into six ounces of sweet & sour. Strain before use. To make the drink, fill a shaker with ice, add four parts vodka and one part sweet & sour mix, shake, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a prik.

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Jason Kerr