A Drink to Die For


Korakot Suriya-arporn
Megan Swann
The Red Rum: Red Bell Pepper-infused Rum, Port, Lemon Juice, Grenadine, and Egg White
The Red Rum: Red Bell Pepper-infused Rum, Port, Lemon Juice, Grenadine, and Egg White

That's not blood spinning in Bartender Liz Pearce's blender. She's actually prepping a cocktail called Red Rum—a reference to the terrifying Kubrick flick in which blood floods from an elevator and Jack Nicholson attempts to “Red Rum” his family. At vaudevillian-styled speakeasy The Drifter in Chicago, Pearce infuses El Dorado 3-year rum with red bell pepper, giving her Red Rum a refreshing, sweet vegetal quality and blood red hue.

Pearce turns to the Vita-Prep for rapid infusion, using one pepper for every 750 milliliters rum. The blender’s speed allows the pepper's color and flavor to infuse completely without losing any vibrancy. She then strains the bell pepper-rum through a cheesecloth-lined chinois. Because the rum is infused with fresh produce, it has a relatively short shelf life, about one week, and so Pearce suggests storing it in the fridge which also keeps the color from deadening. At The Drifter, Pearce is part of an all-lady bar team with a culinary vernacular, and even with the theatrics surrounding the bar, it's the drinks that take center stage—no veggies on the side.

To attempt The Red Rum:

1. Double shake 2 ounces red bell pepper-infused rum, ¼ ounce ruby port, ½ ounce pomegranate molasses grenadine, ¾ ounce lemon juice, and 1 egg white.
2. Double-strain the foamy mixture into a coupe glass, and finish with Angostura bitters and edible flower. The result is an addictive zinger of a cocktail with deep red pepper flavor and a lovely mouthfeel. Drink more vegetables!

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