Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Gin Cocktails

El Volcán

bright-orange El Volcan cocktail in a rocks glass over one large ice sphere, with a lime peel garnish
Image: Virginia Miller

El Volcán is a refreshing cocktail from Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio’s waterfront restaurant in San Francisco, La Mar. The drink was created by Diego Pilares and showcases one of Peru’s most ubiquitous peppers, the ají amarillo, which Acurio considers to be the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking.

The cocktail begins with gin, but not your typical gin, because the spirit is infused with the bright yellow pepper and half of a deseeded habañero. Left to steep for two weeks, the dry, botanical gin takes on the vegetal spice from the peppers.

In addition to the now-spicy gin, the cocktail calls for earthy mezcal, bittersweet Aperol, fresh lime juice and agave syrup. The mezcal complements the peppers, while the Aperol tames some of the heat. The lime juice and agave provide tart and sweet balance, ensuring that this drink goes down easy.

El Volcán is spicy, but it’s not a one-trick cocktail. It’s packed with a medley of interesting and nuanced flavors that will keep you coming back for more.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Ají-amarillo-infused gin

  • 1/2 ounce mezcal

  • 1/2 ounce Aperol

  • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup

  • Garnish: lime peel

Steps

  1. Add the infused gin, mezcal, Aperol, lime juice and agave syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice ball.

  3. Garnish with a lime peel.

**Ají-amarillo-infused gin: Wash 1 1/2 oz frozen ají amarillo peppers. Remove the ends of the peppers, then cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard, then cut the peppers into thin strips, and add them and half of a de-seeded habañero pepper to a 750 mL bottle of gin. Seal with a lid or stopper, and let steep for 2 weeks.