La bonita baracha and her salty spice
June 19, 2009 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out how to reproduce this delicious cocktail I drank at Montage in Portland. Secret ingredient? Sriracha hot sauce.

Last week while visiting Portland I went to Le Bistro Montage. On the menu was a drink called "La Bonita Boracha" (sic) whose ingredients were so ridiculous I had to ask the waiter if it was a joke. As listed on the menu: Aviation gin, Sriracha hot sauce, mint, lemon, lime. On the rocks with a salted rim.

I ordered one and damn it was delicious. Didn't taste like a novelty drink at all. It worked as a proper cocktail, albeit a bit odd with the salty / hot / garlicky vibe. The drink also seemed a bit tempered by sweetness. It tasted pretty unique, but the closest comparison I can come up with is Thai tamarind candy.

I want to make one at home. I can't go back and bribe a bartender for the recipe and I tried emailing the restaurant but got no response. My first attempt was a nearly undrinkable disaster, so I'm trying to puzzle it out. My guess for the cocktail is 2 parts gin, 1 part sour, 1 part sweet. Add the mint and sriracha as flavouring garnishes.

But I feel like I'm missing something here, particularly since the ingredient list didn't mention anything sweet but I swear it had something. Aviation Gin doesn't look particularly unusual, not like a sweet Jenever or anything. Rose's lime juice? (shudder). Any other hot sauce or garlicky cocktails that I could use as inspiration?
posted by Nelson to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
How is their bar set up and are you located far away from it? You could go back there, order one or wait for someone to order one and see how the bartender makes it. Bartenders like to show off, generally, and won't spirit themselves away in the back to prepare their beverages. If the place go for consistency then the bartender will also use a jigger, which will help you get a sense of proportions to use in your own mix.

You could also, as you're hanging out, try to talk to the bartender if they're not crazy slammed. Asking 'Hey that looks really neat/interesting/WTF HOT SAUCE?!; what's that and what's in that?' will more times than not illicit a response.
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:57 AM on June 19, 2009

Is it possible that the simple syrup was infused with the zest of the citrus? (if I were to do this at home, I would zest the fruit into water, strain, then use that water to make syrup, rather than zest into already-made syrup). Also, do you remember anything being muddled?
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:58 AM on June 19, 2009

Some of the sweetness may come from the mint being muddled in the shaker, in addition to be used as a garnish. Perhaps the lemon and/or lime also came in (in whole or in part) by way of a simple syrup. Perhaps the lemon was a Meyer lemon (so, sweeter) or a sweet lime.

Sounds like months of experimenting to me! Have fun and let us know if you figure it out.
posted by rtha at 11:00 AM on June 19, 2009

Ha! I owe Jon_Evil a cocktail, jinx.
posted by rtha at 11:00 AM on June 19, 2009

A restaurant in Seattle used to have a different Sriracha drink. I never totally figured it out, but it involved mandarin vodka and rubbing the rim with a thai chili pepper cut lengthwise. So you might also experiment with those.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:07 AM on June 19, 2009

Going there for dinner tonight. I will try to sweet talk the bartender into teaching me the recipe. I'll report on my findings later. Wish me luck on my mission!
posted by dchrssyr at 11:09 AM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Drinks menus often don't list simple syrup or bar sugar as an ingredient, so I'd definitely try that if dchrssyr doesn't come back with a recipe.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:21 AM on June 19, 2009

I had something similar at The Driftwood in the Hotel Deluxe. I can't remember the exact name of the drink — I believe it was the "Bartender's Choice" or "Bartender's Mood" — but he used a habanero-infused vodka made by New Deal Distillery.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on June 19, 2009

For what it's worth, Aviation gin doesn't have that "pine-y" flavor that most gin has at all. That might be part of it.
posted by Asbestos McPinto at 11:50 AM on June 19, 2009

Some sour mixes are sweeter than others, that could be the issue.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:01 PM on June 19, 2009

Now, I'm tempted to go and elbow in front of dchrssyr's sweet-talking and see if I can get the recipe first! I love Sriracha - cha, chaaa!

My favorite summer drink is Aviation gin, simple syrup, muddled mint and a squeeze of lime with sparkling water over ice. I'm *really* not sure what sriracha would add to that but lemon might bring the flavor profile around.

Was it stirred so that the hot stuff was incorporated?
posted by amanda at 4:13 PM on June 19, 2009

Mission Report:

I had your drink. And some killer crawfish etouffee. The bar wouldn't give me anymore information than we can gather from the ingredients list and I wasn't close enough to watch. Sorry.

I'm gonna try to recreate it, myself. You're right, it's a pretty fabulous drink.
My guess is Aviation gin, over muddled mint and ice, one (maybe two - you'll know when the color is right), healthy squeeze of Sriracha - stir, add just a bit of simple syrup and fresh lemon juice. Garnish with lime.

I also had a tasty after dinner beverage called the Safe Word. It was vanilla infused vodka, makers mark, godiva cream, and cocoa dust on the rim, up. It was pretty tasty.

I think I love that place. Who knew there was a cool restaurant under the Morrison bridge?
posted by dchrssyr at 12:28 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for trying, dchrssyr! Glad to have confirmation I'm not crazy that it's a pretty good drink. Do you agree, it was sweetened with something? A drink with just gin and lemon juice is awfully harsh. Too bad I'm not in Portland to do some more "research".

I like the idea of simple syrup or sugar during muddling being the tempering sweetness. Amanda, your drink sounds pretty close to what I'm looking for, minus the salty and hot elements. My guess is La Bonita Boracha has actual sriracha sauce stirred in, maybe a teaspoon or two a glass. OTOH I don't remember seeing obvious lumps of chile, maybe it was muddled with the lime? The other thing I'm trying to figure out now is that it contains both lemon and lime, that's a bit fussy. Lime seems right, but maybe all lime is too harsh.

I've got a big stack of key limes in my house and there's fresh mint in a farmer's market just a few blocks away. Will be sure to report back if I make a drinkable drink.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2009

Getting somewhere.. I made a drink with 8 parts gin, 4 parts lime/lemon mixture, 2 parts simple syrup, 1 part sriracha. About 5 mint leaves muddled with a bit of sugar in each salted glass, shake, pour over ice. It's not bad, but it's not great either. The lime-aide flavour is too strong and there's not enough mint flavour. The sriracha proportion is about right though.

Strangely the sriracha makes the drink a bit thick; I think next time I'll make it a bit more as a long drink, add some water. Sriracha is smooth though, no seeds, so it mixes clean. Surprisingly little sugar is needed. Maybe none other than the muddling.
posted by Nelson at 7:40 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's sometimes hard to notice this through the heat, but sriracha itself is sweet, so that might be the source of some of the sweetness.

Rose's Lime Juice was in fact the magical secret ingredient in one of my favorite Bloody Marys. It added a nice sourness and sweetness.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:45 PM on July 1, 2009

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