Drag Race Thailand
Updated: Apr 22, 2021
A Pina Colada meets a Thai Iced Tea – the Drag Race Thailand was inspired by the wildly successful RuPaul's Drag Race spinoff set in Thailand for Pouring Ribbons' Legends & Icons menu. While that menu primarily focused on American drag ball culture, I felt it essential to explore the global influence that culture has had, and the positive impact it's carried with it.
Having spent significant time in Thailand over the years, it's been fascinating to see the influence of American Drag shift an entire cultural mindset. The commercial success of Drag Race Thailand has helped educate the public and empower Thais in the LGBTQ community by destroying dated stigmas and misconceptions.
The drink itself is a sort of gin-spiked Thai iced tea with coconut cream and coconut milk in place of sweetened condensed milk. Lime, makrut lime leaf, lemongrass, and orange cream citrate provide a bouquet of citrus to keep things bright on the palate while a dusting of dehydrated curry leaves, makrut lime leaves, and Thai tea leaves provide an intensely spiced aromatic.
Drag Race Thailand recipe
1.75 oz Makrut Lime & Curry Leaf-infused Bombay Sapphire East Gin
.75 oz Thai Tea Syrup
.75 oz Coco Biz
.25 oz Lime Stock
1 dash Bitterman's Orange Cream Citrate
Garnish: TLC (Tea, Lime, Curry)
Whip shake with crushed ice and dump into the glass. Top with crushed ice and sprinkle TLC dust over the top for garnish.
Makrut Lime & Curry Leaf-infused Bombay Sapphire East Gin*
Throughout the R&D process, I simply used Bombay Sapphire East. I am a fan of the product and an even bigger fan of Bombay's sustainability practices, particularly in regards to their Laverstoke Mill distillery.
While the drink was delicious, the Thai Tea syrup had to do all the heavy lifting, and it was a relatively straight-forward slammer. The lime and curry Bombay Sapphire East was used in The Raid cocktail, created by Joaquín Simó and Brooke Toscano for the Midnight Movies menu, and made for a perfect match.
The lime leaf adds bright, citrusy notes without bringing in additional acid to throw the balance off, and the curry makes for a savory, spicy finish. And yes, I know curry leaf is not used in Thai cuisine, but that's the gin we had on hand during R&D and it was too delicious to omit.
If you're unable to procure Bombay Sapphire East, just about any bold, citrusy London Dry Gin will work.
Thai Tea Syrup**
I tried making my own Thai tea blend but was left unsatisfied with the results as I couldn't nail down an authentic recipe. Most of the tea served in American Thai restaurants and street carts in Thailand use a commercial tea blend, so I opted for that for the sake of familiarity and consistency.
The Thai Tea used was sourced from Dual Specialty Spice Shop and is probably very similar to any commercial tea mix you can find online.
The standard Pouring Ribbons coconut blend is a given for any Colada riff. It's simply equal parts coconut milk and Coco Lopez, a sweetened coconut cream used in the original Pina Colada.
If you're unable to find Coco Lopez, you can approximate your own by combining equal parts coconut cream and 2:1 cane syrup.
Adapted from a Trash Tiki recipe, this has become a Pouring Ribbons standard.
I opted for fresh lime juice to start but found the dialed-in acidity of the milder, slightly less-limey stock worked better as it had a more neutral flavor than fresh juice.
You can substitute fresh lime juice here without throwing off the balance of the drink, but you may need to add an extra half teaspoon or so depending on how acidic your lime juice is.
You can also use my artificial lime juice.
Bitterman's Orange Cream Citrate
I was hoping to just use this instead of any fresh citrus, but it wasn't quite enough to cut through the coco biz and syrup. It adds a subtle orange note that plays nicely with the vanilla of the Thai tea.
TLC (Tea, Lime, Curry)*****
This is an aromatic garnish that makes use of the infused tea, lime, and curry leaves that would normally go to waste. It also adds a nice visual contrast and plenty of spice to echo the palate.
*Makrut Lime & Curry Leaf-infused Bombay Sapphire East Gin
2g torn makrut lime leaves
2g torn green curry leaves
1 bottle Bombay Sapphire East Gin (750ml)
Infuse the makrut lime and green curry leaves in the Bombay Sapphire East for 24 hours.
Fine-strain and save leaves for dehydration.
**Thai Tea Syrup
10g Thai Tea Blend (about 2 tbsp)
250g White granulated sugar
Steep Thai Tea Blend in freshly boiled hot water for 20 minutes.
Strain and save tea for garnish.
Blend Thai Tea with sugar until completely emulsified. [Yields 12oz Thai Tea syrup]
Canned coconut milk
Coco Lopez cream of coconut
Combine equal parts of coconut milk and Coco Lopez. Blend Hard.
Tip: Soak the cans in hot water to loosen the contents within.
I recommend using my artificial citrus recipe in place of the lime stock as it tastes better, lasts longer, and is probably more practical to prepare at home, but here is the original recipe I adapted from Trash Tiki for Pouring Ribbons (I upped the sugar and both acids).
500 g water
6 Juiced lime husks
Bring water to a boil. Add juiced lime husks and heat for 5 minutes (not a second longer, or you'll ruin the batch with a bitter, pithy flavor).
Strain and weigh.
Add 20% sugar by weight along with 7% citric acid and 3% malic acid. Blend. Adjust to taste. [Yields 16oz lime stock.]
*****TLC (Tea, Lime, Curry)
Reserved lime, tea, and curry leaves from infusions
Dehydrate all infused lime, tea, and curry leaves either with a dehydrator or in an oven set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Run through a spice grinder until they can be sprinkled from a standard spice shaker.
Photo credit: Joanna Lin