Ever since I had an amazing drink at the Dove Parlour (after seeing Laurence Fishburne walk by), I’ve been trying to re-create it at home.
It was fig-infused vodka with black pepper syrup. I’m sure there were some other ingredients, but I can’t recall them and can’t find the drink on their online menu. Then I remembered having a similar (though not as tasty) drink at Catch, also involving vodka with peppercorn syrup. I started by making the black pepper syrup. Then attempted a cheater’s version of the infused vodka. Perfecting the rest of the drink, however, has not been easy and will vary according to individual tastes/alcohol tolerance. You could also use the syrup with honey vodka or add it to a Bloody Mary. Try mixing it into some bourbon, rye or rum. Whatever you decide to create, I’m sure you’ll enjoy experi-mixing!
Fig-Infused Vodka with Peppercorn Syrup
2 tbsps of Tellicherry peppercorns
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
3 figs (in syrup, if possible)
2 cups of vodka
1 sprig of rosemary
1/4 tsp of fresh grated ginger
3 dashes of bitters (your choice)
First make the black pepper syrup. Combine peppercorns, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for half an hour and then cool. The syrup will be a dark color because of the peppercorns. If you want to use brown sugar you can, but it will be even darker so keep that in mind for presentation purposes. The syrup can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. (Note: if you want to have more pepper flavor, crush the peppercorns a little.)
Now you need to infuse the vodka. (Or you can do this before making the syrup if you want.) I used Mt. Vikos Glazed and Roasted Figs that I found at Whole Foods. They have this amazingly flavorful syrup that worked well. But they are not cheap. If you can’t find them or don’t want to use them. Try buying some figs and cooking them down yourself. When cooled, add 2-3 figs with some of the syrup to the vodka. (The amount of figs and vodka are really up to you depending on how much you want to make and how strong you want the fig flavor to be). Let sit for half an hour to a week….again, this is up to you and how much time you have. For example, I put some vodka in a cocktail shaker with the figs and let it sit for a few hours on one occasion and then overnight on another. Both worked just fine, but I added more fig syrup to the first batch.
Once you’ve infused your vodka and made the syrup, now the real fun begins.
Fill a cocktail shaker full of ice. Add 2 tbsps of the pepper syrup and 8 oz of vodka. Add the rosemary, ginger and bitters (I used Old Time Aromatic Bitters). Pour in some of the fig syrup if desired. If you want a strong drink, there’s no need to add anything.
If you want a weaker drink, you can add some earl grey tea, grapefruit juice or ginger beer for more flavor. Or add seltzer, club soda or even a bit of water.
Top the drink with half a fig and 2 turns of fresh ground black pepper. The flavors go nicely with the cooler weather in early autumn.