When the Violet Hour‘s Patrick Smith was challenged by Maria Carlin of Big Star to create a cocktail using black sesame, he says he was relieved: “It’s not a terrible ingredient to work with.” He describes its flavor as “like tahini, but darker and fuller.”
Smith’s main challenge was getting that taste into a cocktail. Infusing spirits with toasted black sesame didn’t give him a strong enough flavor, nor did a sesame-infused syrup. He ended up making his own black-sesame paste, mixing equal parts black sesame seeds and honey in a blender.
Black sesame is nutty, which reminded Smith of orgeat, a roasted almond syrup used in tiki drinks. Since he’s always liked what he calls “strange tiki drinks,” he substituted black-sesame paste for the orgeat and incorporated unusual ingredients like a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur called Riga Black Balsam.
Deciding “black” would be the theme of the drink, he also used black Jamaican rum and Cruzan Black Strap rum. Other ingredients included Lemon Hart 151 overproof rum, apple brandy, cream of coconut, lime juice, and banana. Because he was working with a thick paste, he knew he wouldn’t be able to incorporate it by shaking, so instead he made a blended drink with ice, serving it over more ice with edible flowers and mint.
Smith says the drink—which he named Black Magic Woman after an early Fleetwood Mac song—is “dark and extremely boozy, but goes down easy. Kind of like a painkiller.”
Black Magic Woman
2 bar spoons black-sesame paste*
.5 oz Riga Black Balsam liqueur
.5 oz Cruzan Black Strap rum
.5 oz Hamilton Jamaican black rum
Splash of Lemon Hart 151 rum
.75 oz apple brandy
1 oz cream of coconut
.75 oz lime juice
Quarter of a banana
Add all ingredient to a blender and blend. Add ice, blend again, and pour into an ice-filled tiki mug. Garnish with edible flowers and mint.
*Black-sesame paste: Combine equal parts black sesame seeds and honey; blend until smooth.
Smith has challenged Michael Rubel of Henry’s Swing Club to create a cocktail with three-penis wine—a Chinese rice wine brewed with deer, seal, and dog penis. He says that he’s never tried it, but a former Violet Hour barback told him about it and where to buy it. “I will personally buy a bottle and hand it to him,” Smith says, “and I will try it then.”