Hoang Nguyen, the beverage director at Connie and Ted’s in Los Angeles, keeps drinks approachable and seafood-friendly to pair with the restaurant’s seafood-centric menu. The Niña, the Piña & the Santa Monica cocktail stays on theme, merging savory, smoky mezcal with pineapple juice, lime juice and honey syrup.
Nguyen tops the cocktail with freshly cracked black pepper and homemade basil oil, which is created by blending blanched basil leaves with vegetable oil until the combo is emulsified into a bright-green oil. The pepper plays up the earthy, peppery notes of the mezcal and complements the pineapple’s sweetness, while the basil oil provides gorgeous visuals and herbal aromatics with each sip.
The Niña, the Piña & the Santa Monica is flavorful and refreshing, perfect for drinking alongside raw oysters, fried clams, lobster roles and other nautical specialties.
- 2 ounces mezcal
- 1 ounce pineapple juice
- 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup
- Garnish: basil oil*
- Garnish: black pepper, freshly cracked
Add the mezcal, pineapple juice, lime juice and honey syrup into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Add a few drops of basil oil onto the foamed surface using an eyedropper, then crack one turn of black pepper over the top.
*Basil oil: Plunge 1 lb basil leaves, with stems removed, into boiled water, and stir for about 10 seconds, then place in a bowl of iced water. Remove basil and gently press out excess water. Place basil in salad spinner to further dry the basil. Add the basil to a Vitamix and set on low. Add a small splash of vegetable oil and blend. Gradually increase speed while adding small amounts of oil until the Vitamix just starts to break down the basil. Turn the Vitamix to high, adding a little bit more oil, and continue to blend for 60 to 90 seconds. Use as little vegetable oil as possible (approximately 8 to 12 oz). Pour into a cheesecloth-lined chinois resting over a bowl and let gradually strain. Allow to cool, then bottle.