The ingredients for Erin Hayes's coconut curry cocktail, the Five O’clock in Phuket
The ingredients for Erin Hayes's coconut curry cocktail, the Five O’clock in Phuket Credit: Andrea Bauer

Challenged by Scofflaw’s Danny Shapiro with fish sauce, the pungent distillate of fermented fish, Perennial Virant bartender Erin Hayes made a savory cocktail inspired by Thai tom yam curry. Starting with a fish sauce aged in bourbon barrels, she combined two virgin sugarcane rums—one infused with coconut flakes—with a homemade coconut curry made with more of the sauce than she had expected it could handle. “I was going to serve it in a coconut too, but I thought that was too much,” Hayes said. She added citrus to bring out the umami of the sauce without the flavor of anchovies.

Who’s Next:

Hayes has challenged Johnny Costello Jr. of GT Fish & Oyster with stinging nettles, the prickly plant sometimes used as an herbal remedy.

(Recipe below slideshow.)

Five O’clock in Phuket

½ oz lime juice

½ oz lemon grass simple syrup*

1 oz Coconut curry mix*

1½ oz coconut-infused Neisson rum*

¼ oz Batavia arrack

1 barspoon Blis fish sauce

Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into rocks glass or chilled coupe glass. Garnish with Thai basil leaf.

*Lemongrass simple syrup

1 quart water

1 quart sugar

2 stalks lemongrass

Heat water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Trim the ends of the lemongrass stalks and press the centers to split and release its aromatic oils. Add lemongrass to simple syrup and simmer together for 10-15 minutes until desired flavor is reached. Cool and bottle.

*Coconut curry mix (recipe that Perennial Virant sous chef Carlo LaMagna and I came up with)

2 cans Thai Kitchen organic coconut milk (unsweetened)

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon corriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon mustard seed

2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes/shreds

2 tablespoons (or less to taste) Blis fish sauce

Toast all spices in a pan. Heat coconut milk to simmer. Add seasonings and toasted coconut flakes. Slowly add fish sauce while stirring. Heat all elements together for 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool and strain.

*Coconut-infused Neisson rum

6 oz Neisson rum

3 tablesoons unsweetened organic coconut flakes.

Combine ingredients and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain coconut through cheesecloth.