Friday Cocktails: Piri Pressure

Ganda Suthivarakom

SAVEUR's May issue is on the newsstands, and readers know that May's "Source" column features Mazi Piri-Piri, a particularly fine rendition of the oil-based chile sauce that originated in Portugal's African colonies. Made in a New Jersey restaurant kitchen by Peter Mantas, former manager for Jon Bon Jovi, this whiskey barrel-aged condiment has such depth and deliciousness that it had me singing Bon Jovi's "Head Over Heels" on first taste. Of course, I imagined it in a cocktail. So I tapped one of my favorite bartenders, Jill Shulster, co-owner and bar manager at the Manhattan restaurant JoeDoe and asked her to concoct a piri piri-based potion for us.

Shulster—a maverick mixologist whose bar menu includes such spins on classics as a black & tan made with ale, porter, bourbon, and frozen marshmallow, and a Manhattan that includes preserved lemon—fell as hard for the piri piri as I had. First, she stirred it with sugar into hot water to make a spicy syrup. Then, she combined the piri piri syrup, fresh lime, chunks of frozen pineapple, and Siembra Azul Tequila Blanco, a spirit with clean, strong flavors of vanilla and brine. The result is a bracing, peach-colored cocktail that is sweet and spicy, tart and savory.

With its chunks of pineapple and smoky chile-and-tomato seasoning, the drink has the flavor and heft of a liquid luau. (Yes, it's a cross-cultural reference, but that's the colonial period for you: tomatoes, chiles, pineapples, and umpteen other new world crops found their way across the oceans to Africa, the Azores, Polynesia, and elsewhere.) Shulster calls it the Piri Pressure, which may be a reference to my repeated editorial nagging while she was mulling over her creation. It's such a likeable, tropical cocktail, though, she might as well have called it Piri Paradise.