Saturday, May 3, 2014

Spicy Tantra Martini

We were in Puerto Rico recently traveling with another couple. One night, during our stay in Old San Juan, we decided to try a restaurant that caught our eye earlier in the day when we were out sightseeing. The restaurant, Tantra, is mostly Indian but it fuses a variety of cuisines. We had a big lunch so we just decided to go with a series of small dishes.

But first, some drinks. We ordered a glass of wine but the spicy martinis on the bar menu caught the eye of one of our friends. He ordered one of the many specialty martinis. Upon arrival, it got passed around the table so that everyone could take a sip. Wow! The sweet fruit up front was refreshing after a day in the 80 degree sun. But then there was a smooth transition to a mouthful of heat. We all decided it was delicious. When the waiter returned I asked about the source of the heat. I figured that there was some secret exotic ingredient to the spice. It turned out that a homemade chile-infused vodka was the heat. I asked for the ingredients in the drink and was told spicy vodka, triple sec, and guava juice. That's it.

I recorded the ingredients in my notes for later experimentation. I was already thinking of that bag of dried chiles sitting in my pantry. We went on to have a fabulous meal at Tantra and I would recommend the restaurant if you're in Old San Juan.

When I got home I jumped right into my research by looking online on how to infuse vodka with chiles. Here's what I ended up doing: I brought home a 750 ml. bottle of Smirnoff. I took a few generous sips off the top one evening and then dropped in 5 dried chiles. I sealed the bottle back up and stuck it back in pantry for three weeks (trying a sip once a week to gauge the spiciness). The vodka took on a slight reddish hue from the chiles after week 2. Although I did three weeks, next time I'd go for four to compare.

At that point, I poured the vodka through a strainer into another receptacle until I could retrieve the chiles. I poured the strained vodka back into the original bottle and returned it to the pantry.

I managed to find some guava juice at my local supermarket but the color didn't match what I remembered from Puerto Rico.

I got online to do some research on the proportions. I started with a Cosmo recipe and after my first spicy martini I tweaked the recipe a bit. Here's version 1:

Spicy Martini

  • 1/4 cup spicy vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup guava juice (or some other tropical juice)

Fill a martini shaker with ice and add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a martini glass.

This was pretty close to what we enjoyed at Tantra. Not quite as spicy (but another week of chili infusion might do it).
Enjoy this interesting drink that starts nice and turns naughty.