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Drink This Now: Cat Juggler at Caña + The Recipe

Caña: Cat JugglerThe last time we got around to reviewing Caña's seasonal cocktail menu, it was about two weeks before the season ended. You can no longer order the Misti Dawn Swizzle, our favorite temporal libation unless, just maybe, you ask oh-so-sweetly or you happen to be porn star Misti Dawn. Since no one will mistake our figure, once legitimately called curvy and now called curvy only as a euphemism for pudgy, with that of a kittenish sex star, we had to move on to the spring-summer menu.

Fortunately, bartender Allan Katz et al. haven't fallen down on the job. Caña's latest menu offers a dozen new drinks, organized by potency into Daggers, Pistols and Cannons. Our favorite is the Cat Juggler ($13), and not because of its droll name or how it was inspired by Jamaican jerk. Don't let that last bit put you off. This is equilibrium in a double old fashioned glass.

Heat is the inescapable cocktail trend of the moment, whether it's the lovely serrano and lime of Thirsty Crow's Afternoon Delight or a dozen lesser concoctions that taste like a bell pepper pizza slapping you in the face. The Cat Juggler is a sweet, hot, icy mess based on habanero-infused Appleton's Reserve, which Katz is constantly perfecting. Honey gives it a mellow sweetness, lime juice keeps the whole thing from veering toward Candyland and St. Liz adds the faintest whiff of clove and cinnamon. At Caña, it's garnished with a slice of lime and a nubbin of spicy candied mango. Not too much heat on the lips but just enough in the back of your throat.

Also of Note:

  • The serene, easily sippable Bad Passenger is a highball of gin, Amaro Lucano and strawberries pulled together by tart lemon soda.
  • Somewhat stronger, the sharp Tennessee Isle is a rum-based twist on the Sazerac made with coconut bitters and "overripe mango-infused absinthe." (And why the hell not?)
  • If you want to ensure you're in your cups, the Twenty-Eight Days Later, inspired by Don the Beachcomber's classic Zombie, contains mescal, Tuaca and no less than three kinds of rum. Sure, all that booze is masked by pineapple, pomegranate, passion fruit, bitters and absinthe, but like the zombies of the Danny Boyle film, it works fast.

Cat Juggler

From: Allan Katz

Makes: 1 drink

2 oz. habañero-infused Appleton Reserve

1 oz. fresh lime juice

.75 oz. honey

1 dropper St. Elizabeth Allspice Liqueur

Dash of Ardbeg-based bitters

Dash of angostura bitters

1 dropper of thyme tincture on the ice

1. Shake quickly. Strain over ice into a double old fashioned glass.

2. Add a flamed angostura garnish, if you like.