Shaken, not baked

Begone, Bloody Mary—savory cocktails can be much more exciting! This philosophy rings true for Alex V., an award-winning mixologist who has been inventing cocktail recipes since age 15. Last year, the San Juan, Puerto Rico, native managed to recreate the flavor structure of a Hawaiian pizza in a glass during a bartending competition—which might just be a daring and delicious addition to a pizzeria’s cocktail menu. Alex V. discusses his technique:

Can you tell us about the recipe?

The flavors are subtle but balanced; I didn’t want any one flavor to be overpowering. With the crusted rim, it actually kind of looks like a little pizza when you look down at it.

Does this drink pair well with pizza?

There’s no doubt about it. It fits right into the flavor profile. 

What are people’s reactions to the cocktail?

At first people go “Ew, a pizza cocktail—really?” Then, once you tell them it’s an award-winning drink, most people really get interested. When I explain it’s in the same family as a Bloody Mary, then people can’t wait to try it. In the realm of savory, you don’t have to stick to only Red Snappers and Bloody Marys—there are other ways to use earthy and spicy flavors in a cocktail.

Do you have any advice for creating seasonal cocktail menus?

Look for balance. Everything in life is a balance, and with cocktails, the same philosophy applies. Remember: Every ingredient needs to have a purpose and a meaning. You’re transmitting a concept into a glass.

Any tips on infusing liquor?

Start with a high-proof neutral grain spirit, and put the raw ingredients in an infusion jar. Every day, you must shake it, taste it and write down the flavor that you get. Stop when your palate likes it. Anyone can throw jalapeños or pepperoni in with a vodka or gin, but it takes a sophisticated palate to find the perfect balance in the flavor.