DIY This Pepita Cantina Cocktail

The Irish Fizz arrives just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Taha Ismail is the beverage director and a partner at Mike Isabella Concepts, a growing empire that now includes the Ballston trifecta of Kapnos Taverna, Yona and Pepita Cantina, all housed in the same building at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Quincy Street.

At Pepita, where the emphasis is on cocktails, Ismail has put together a formidable list of about 50 libations. The menu includes tall tiki drinks, classic cocktails, punches, sours, beer- or agave-based elixirs, frozen concoctions and, yes, margaritas.

We asked him to come up with a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail and walk us through the thought process behind it. The result? The Irish Fizz ($11), a carbonated, pale-green highball made with Irish whiskey, house-made celery juice, thyme syrup, lime juice, peppercorn tincture (neutral alcohol infused with black pepper) and sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish.

“The base is Redbreast Single Pot Still 12-Year-Old Irish Whiskey, one of my favorites. It has all of the characteristics of good whiskey, but with lots of flavor and smoothness,” says Ismail. “Then I had to think green. Thyme and celery came to mind. I wanted to do a carbonated cocktail to refresh and make the Irish whiskey easier to drink. Since we are a Mexican place, we had to go with some lime juice. Peppercorn balances the sweetness and complements the herbal quality of the celery and thyme.”

Ismail carbonates the mixture, then bottles and caps it so it’s ready to be poured on the rocks to order. He shares his recipe (right). If you don’t have a carbonator, you’ll just have to pay the cantina a visit. pepitabymic.com

The Irish Fizz

Serves 1

1 oz. water

2 oz. celery juice

1 oz. thyme syrup

1 oz. fresh lime juice

4 drops peppercorn tincture

1.5 oz. Redbreast 12-year-old

Irish whiskey

1-2 thyme sprigs

Stir all of the ingredients together. Transfer to carbonator bottle. Attach to CO2 carbonator and shake well. Release the gas slowly. Transfer to a glass bottle and cap it. Store refrigerated. Serve on the rocks, garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.

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