Every year, GQ and Bombay Sapphire team up for the annual Most Inspired Bartender competition. This year, there were two events in Ohio--one in Cleveland and one in Columbus. I competed in Columbus, at the Franklin Botanical Center, and had a fantastic time! I didn't win, but had an amazing amount of positive feedback from the attendees ("I've had at least three people tell me I had to come outside and try the one with red pepper!" and "Yours was definitely the best one in there!" and "One of the bartenders over there told me I needed to come try this one," and even an "I'm so glad that yours is the last one I've tried and that I have in my mouth right now."), so I consider the night a tremendous success. Even more-so of a success for those that were unsure that they actually wanted to try it ("Cilantro? Really?"), had a friend convince them to, and then went back for a second sample.
I really wanted to play off the rich, peppery notes from the Grains of Paradise (one of the botanicals present in Sapphire), and the citrus notes from the lemon peel (also a botanical). Bombay Sapphire is a very intense gin, and I wanted intense flavor profiles to match and balance. I'm very pleased with the final result.
As for the name, I chose to reference "garden path" sentences. The mind processes and develops visuals one word at a time. In garden path sentences, the structure leads you start constructing one meaning of the sentence, and then a word comes along that forces you to reconfigure the meaning. This cocktail, prior to being named, had many people say just those sorts of things about it. We eat and drink with our eyes first, our nose second, and our mouths third. On first glance, you see a pink drink in a "martini" glass. Next, you see pineapple and red pepper in the garnish. As you go to drink you smell the aromatic cilantro. Once you drink, all of those elements come together into something unexpected and lovely.
The Garden Path
Glass: Medium Cocktail
Method: Muddle, Shake and Fine Strain
Garnish: Pineapple, Red pepper, Cilantro
Muddle:1 large cube Fresh Pineapple
5 large pieces Red Bell Pepper
.5 oz Madhava Light Agave Nectar
10 leaves Fresh Cilantro
.25 oz Fresh Lime juice
1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire
Make sure to muddle the red pepper very well to get maximum flavor (we're not worried about bruising or breaking mint here, guys!). Shake ingredients well with ice. Double-strain into a medium-sized cocktail glass (around 6oz) and garnish.