Thailand is more than a country. Thailand is a melting pot of Southeast Asian flavors, ingredients, and cooking methods. For hundred of years, Thai cooking has combined its own traditions with inspiration from other cultures: China introduced noodles and the steel wok; Cambodia contributed grilling; the New World brought peanuts and chili peppers. As David Thompson says, “The true genius of Thai cuisine is its ability to incorporate the unfamiliar, whether it be ingredient or technique, and absorb it so completely that it becomes an integral component.” In that way, Thai cuisine has become a masterful balancing act between sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, with each ingredient intentionally bringing depth and flavor to the final dish.
We began exploring Thai ingredients and cuisine last year with our pairing dinner with Mae Suramek and her amazing team from Noodle Nirvana. Not only was the food incredible (nearly as incredible as the people), the opportunity to play with Thai cuisine in the context of pairings and flavors was eye-opening for the West Main team. So eye-opening, in fact, that we pushed back the original theme for Volume 5 for a two-part Thai-inspired menu.
In our fifth volume, we undertake a year-long exploration of Thai cuisine in the format of a cocktail—not just Thai ingredients and flavors, mind you, but actual culinary practices. A sharp transition from Volume 4‘s colonial-inspired drinks with heavier ingredients and profiles, Volume 5 features an array of cilantro root, bird’s eye chili, white peppercorn, galangal, basil, lemongrasss, coconut, fish sauce, and kaffir lime leaf, as well as white mirepoix, green curry paste, and tapioca pearls. These cocktails take many shapes, but they all play Thai cuisine’s game of balancing sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.
On this menu you’ll find savory bombs like the Green Curry Fizz made with house green curry paste, or the Tom Yum cocktail, built with our white mirepoix-infused arrack, lemongrass tincture, and our kaffir lime leaf liqueur. There are also super aromatic drinks like our Pineapple & Coriander, built with shochu and a pineapple and curry shrub, or the ineffable Afternoon Tea, a Darjeeling tea-infused absinthe verte, with planter’s rum and other aromatics. There are yet other, more cerebrally connected cocktails like an old fashioned-style cocktail with cedar-infused tequila reposado, inspired by the sizzling stalls of Bangkok’s street vendors, designed to explore our Thai interests in different ways.
This menu had so many opportunities for us that we’re actually doing it in two volumes: a spring-summer volume and one that will appear in September for the fall and winter months. And while that may seem like plenty of time to come down and try a drink or two, we promise you will want as much time with these cocktails as possible. Volume 5 also features two new cocktail flights—one highlighting South American spirits and another celebrating traditional tiki drinks—as well as a new addition to our Barrel-Aged section—an 8 week-old El Presidente that shan’t be missed.
We can’t wait to share these drinks with you.