Sweet Heat: Kick-Start Your Night With A Savory Fruit Concoction That Has A Hint Of Spice

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One of my favorite flavor combinations is a tropical fruit paired with a hot pepper, like those chili-dusted mangoes offered by Mexican street vendors or spicy tamarind candies found at Asian markets. So when I heard about mixologist Claire Smith’s Pineapple Mary cocktail, which features pineapple juice and smoked paprika, I couldn’t wait to try it. The most surprising thing about the drink is its base spirit: Belvedere Bloody Mary. But it’s not what you think—rather than tasting like an actual Bloody Mary, the vodka exhibits notes of red pepper, black pepper and horseradish, with aromas of tomato and lemon. It offers a unique blend of flavors that complements a variety of ingredients and adds complexity to any drink, particularly cocktails that lean toward the savory side.

Pina-Maria-ingredients

Keep it simple. If you want to enjoy a simple cocktail at home, Belvedere’s flavored vodkas are an amazing base for that. - Tip from mixologist Claire Smith

“It was a really interesting project to work on because we started with a cocktail and then tried to translate it into a vodka form,” says Smith, who’s in charge of flavor innovations at Belvedere. While using the vodka to make a Bloody Mary seems like the obvious choice, Smith has discovered many other ways to incorporate Belvedere Bloody Mary into cocktails, including her signature Pineapple Mary. “It was just flying off the stand at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (an annual festival that takes place every May in New York City),” she boasts. “People just couldn’t get enough of it.”

And neither can I. My version of the recipe swaps out simple syrup for agave nectar, a natural alternative to the liquid sugar that’s often used in cocktails, and replaces the paprika for the spicier chili powder. Fresh pineapple purée—made by blending three or four chunks of the fruit until smooth—gives the drink a hearty thickness, but your favorite pineapple juice will also do. I love this cocktail when I’m getting ready to go out dancing or heading to a summer party because it’s refreshing without being overly sweet and has enough substance to drink on an empty stomach. Viva la piña!

Piña Maria

  1. 1 1/2 ounces Belvedere Bloody Mary vodka

  2. 3 ounces pineapple purée or juice

  3. 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

  4. 2 teaspoons agave nectar

  5. 2 or 3 dashes orange bitters (Reagan’s or Angostura)

  6. 1/8 teaspoon chili powder

  7. Pineapple chunk

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with a pineapple chunk.

Claire-Smith-Belvedere-Vodka