As I’ve mentioned before, my brother, Rich, is one of the people I go to when I need ideas for cocktails. One time while over at his house, he made me a drink called a Sassy Sara. He had just made some pineapple vinegar and wanted to try it out in a cocktail. He didn’t tell me too much about the drink, other than it was something they served at the restaurant he worked in. He brought me over the drink; I could tell there were muddled jalapenos and I was a bit skeptical. But the first sip with its cool and refreshing notes, followed by a subtle burn in the back of the throat got me hooked.
A few years ago, after a family vacation to the Bay Area and Disneyland, my brother and I were in L.A. visiting our cousin for a few days before we flew home. We had a fun time getting to go to Santa Monica, the farmer’s market, and of course, Fat Sal’s. One night, my brother and I were on our own, so we walked around West Hollywood and basically bar hopped, and ended up in a hotel bar where my brother taught the bartender how to make a Sassy Sara. It was delicious and I’m pretty sure they ended up adding it to their drink menu.
Since then, I often crave a Sassy Sara – that great combination of sweet and spicy, but usually make it with a vanilla vodka instead of a vanilla simple syrup. Since simple syrups are so easy to make and I had a few vanilla beans around, I decided to try my hand at it and I have to say, it is way better with a homemade vanilla simple syrup. You’ll still get the same flavor profiles if you choose to use a vanilla vodka, but trust me when I say it’s worth it to make the simple syrup.
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz pineapple rum
1 oz lemonade (use bottled, or I have a great recipe here)
1 oz vanilla simple syrup, recipe follows
In a cocktail shaker, muddle a few slices of jalapenos in the bottom. Fill with ice. Add the vodka, pineapple rum, lemonade, and vanilla simple syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a few slices of jalapeno on top.
Vanilla Simple Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
In a saucepan over medium high heat, bring the sugar and the water to a boil; stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture has just come to a boil, take off the heat. In a heat proof glass jar, place the vanilla bean in and pour the syrup on top. Let the syrup come to room temperature and then place the jar, covered, in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. Strain off the vanilla bean and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.