Fish Sauce Cocktail

Written By: Danno Landon

Fish sauce and bendy straws – if anyone is looking for a great bar idea, well here it is.  Guaranteed you will be one of the only places in the country to embrace fish sauce as a cocktail mixer. Ok let’s be honest, this is some funky stuff. When you think about fish sauce and when cocktails are mentioned with it, most people get grossed out fast. Fish sauce is more of a challenging ingredient.  Creating a bloody mary cocktail would’ve been an easy way out, but I didn’t want to do that. The fish sauce, unfortunately, will not be the star of the show in these cocktails, but more of a vital role player that will make people wonder how you got that flavor. After much experimentation, around ½ to ¾ tsp per drink is about the right amount of funk without getting an overly fish flavor.

The inspiration behind “Port at Port” was a tea drink that I love, so I formatted it to become a cocktail.  Originally a tamarind based tea drink, the addition of ½ teaspoon fish sauce adds a funky, salty note to the drink. Port at Port is based off the idea that by the docks you want to sip something refreshing. A drink that has the salt from the ocean, sweetness from the Port and the refreshment of tamarind tea.

Port at Port (Serves 1)

6 Oz. Tamarind Lemonade (Tamarind, Lemon, Sugar, Water)
1.5 Oz Vodka
1 Oz Ruby Port
½ Tsp Fish Sauce
Lemon for garnish

For the tamarind lemonade, combine half sugar and half water in pot and bring to boil, then let cool to make simple syrup. Combine 8 oz tamarind puree, 4 oz lemon juice, and 32 oz water in a pitcher and stir to incorporate. If you are using tamarind puree, make sure to strain out the seeds. Add simple syrup to your liking. Pour the tamarind mixture into a high ball glass with ice, fish sauce and vodka. Stir until cold, then float the ruby port on top. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Thai iced tea drink, the “Starboard”, was inspired by being lost at first with the project.  So, I made the Thai iced tea for lunch it was a little lightbulb moment as to how to include fish sauce into the “Starboard”.  The reason this works is because Thai iced tea is already a very strong base. Plus, it is well known and loved so people would be willing to try it, even with the fish sauce. The fish sauce adds to the dairy and tea notes by enhancing their intensity and finishing the sweet with a little salt. The reason I do not give exact proportions for certain ingredients is because it is very subjective to the person making the drink. I personally enjoy a lot of the sour tamarind in my drink, but others might not want that much. The main thing with both drinks is to taste all the components before mixing.

Starboard (Serves 1)

5 Oz Thai Iced Tea
Sugar, to taste
1 Oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1.5 Oz Bourbon
1.5 Oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ Tsp Fish Sauce

For the Thai Iced Tea, steep Thai tea mix according to the package directions, add sugar to liking, then cool. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.