About a week ago, I saw an intriguing cocktail book on sale at Williams-Sonoma. It was called Artisanal Cocktails and written by Scott Beattie, who apparently is a big time mixologist up in the Bay Area. I figured it would be a nice change of pace from Paul Abercrombie’s Organic, Shaken, and Stirred, which I’d been mining for drinks for the past four months. And so I happily purchased Artisanal Cocktails, knowing that a new Quaff would be en route.

Sure enough, there was an intriguing cocktail in the book called the Thai Boxer, which called for coconut milk and many herbs (mint, basil, cilantro), among other things. It fascinated me greatly, and as luck would have it, I had some coconut milk on hand that needed to be used. In no time, my friend Sly was at my apartment, ready to help conjure up this first attempt at a Scott Beattie recipe.

Our adventure, including a lengthy battle with my new cocktail shaker, after the jump…

The new cocktail book. It will need to put forth quite the showing to compete with Organic, Shaken, and Stirred

Behold the recipe.

Some of the necessary tools. Note the giant shaker on the right, given to me by my aunt (thanks again!). This is its debut.

No, this isn’t turkey. It’s actually coconut milk that I’ve stored in a turkey container. Fear not: all remnants of the bird have been long since washed away.

The new shaker is positively huge. It’s like the BURJ DUBAI of barware.

Sly happily documents the dishes in my drying rack. Hey, at least they’re clean.

We begin.

The recipe calls for lime juice but not much. I eschew my electric juicer for the reamer this time.

Squeezing. It’s not as clean or elegant as using the juicer, but for such a small amount, I didn’t want to make more dishes.

Of course, I manage to get more lime juice on the cutting board than anything else.

Into the giant shaker goes the lime juice. The view is not unlike the climactic scene of Empire Strikes Back.

(Inside the shaker)

Pouring the extra lime juice into the monster shaker.

Now time for some vanilla rum.

And then simple syrup.

And then coconut milk. Clearly I was a bit overzealous.

Sly once again documents the mess.

Ginger beer. If you ever want to sound like you’re from a working class neighborhood in Boston, just say “GINGE-AH BEE-AH.”

A small bundle of thai basil makes a home for itself near a puddle of coconut milk.

After some sloppy chiffonade action, the basil enters the shaker.

Inside the shaker. HELLO?… hello… hello… ECHO!… echo… echo…

Here comes the mint. Delicious aromas all around.

And in goes the mint.

Dramatic recreation of the mint going into the shaker.

Lastly, I chop up some cilantro. Sly doesn’t really like the herb; so leave it out of the shaker with the intent of adding it to my glass afterwards.

Said glass.

Not sure what’s going on here.

In search of ice.

I accidentally put the top on the shaker, but in fact, the recipes calls for merely a stir and an unstrained pour. No top needed. Alas, this shaker refuses to relinquish its hat.

Looking around to see if there are any implements that can remove the shaker top.

More tugging. Sly can attest to the fact that I did not jam the top on. I merely placed it on the shaker. And yet it would not budge.

Seriously, this was turning into a feat of strength.

Not funny anymore. Get OFF.

Finally we decide to simply pour the drink, albeit strained, and then chop up some new herbs to go in the glasses.

Annoyingly, this double batch seems to barely cover one glass.

One of the problems is that all those great herbs are probably blocking the booze. It’s more important than ever to get this top off.

This was becoming unpleasant.

Perhaps Sly’s feminine hands would do the trick.

But not even the iron grip of Sly could remove the top. Go figure: WOMEN.

After five minutes of this foolishness, we swaddle the shaker in a damp cloth and stick it in the freezer with hopes that the metal will contract and loosen.

In the meantime, we have a drink to try.


Lovely! The drink is quite nice. Nothing special, but imminently drinkable. In fact, Sly and I both note that it’s a bit too sweet and the herbs largely undetectable… and yet of all our cocktails, this one went down the fastest. Within 30 seconds we were both done. Perhaps that’s also due to the small yield in each glass. Not sure it was terribly strong either.


In a shift in strategy, we decide to run the shaker under hot water. This doesn’t seem to work, especially since my faucet is incapable of yielding anything warmer than sun tea.

It has now been a full sixteen minutes since we put the top on the shaker, according to the photo time stamps.

On principle, we refuse to let the shaker win; however, I’m starting to think this beguiling object has been sealed shut by the gods of Olympus or at least some magical deity from Middle Earth.

I try everything: I command the shaker to open.

I plead with the shaker.

I play mind games with the shaker.

And then I return to making weird faces and pulling.

And then… twenty minutes later… a breakthrough! The shaker suddenly relents. Man triumphs over machine!

Time for another drink. We liked the last one, but we thought we’d tweak it a little. The first adjustment comes out of necessity: we sub in a lemon as I’m out of lime juice.

Sly takes note of two old bananas resting on a pile of even older garlic. I can assure you the garlic is now gone, and the bananas… well… STAY TUNED.

Slicing the lemon. Please observe the shaker top, which is going nowhere near the shaker in the foreseeable future.

Squeezing the juice. This time I use a bowl so as not to waste precious juices on the cutting board.

So for this batch, we toss more herbs into the shaker (which still holds the herbs from the last batch). And then we muddle (there was no muddling in the previous version).

A chaotic corner of my kitchen/life.

Muddling. Truth be told, we need more herbs.

After muddling, we add the lemon/lime juice, ginger beer, coconut milk, and rum. We skip the simple syrup.

Turns out I have kaffir lime leaves on hand. I decide to bust them out to up the lime flavor. Too bad I didn’t have lemongrass too. That would have completed the thai flavor profile.

My sad kaffir lime leaves. I don’t know what the honey is doing there.

The Thai Boxer 2.0. Or really, since we’ve changed the drink, we can rename it something else. How about a Bangkok Breeze?

Oh wait, the kaffir.

And NOW: The Bangkok Breeze!

The verdict: pretty good! It tasted pretty much the same as the Thai Boxer. The kaffir added very little (probably needed to be present during the muddling stages), and like I mentioned before, we needed more herbs. With the vanilla rum and coconut and ginger beer, there are a lot of flavors going on. The herbs get lost. This drink will not blow your socks off, but it does go down nice and easy. It’s probably best served in a hollowed-out coconut with an umbrella (and yes, I’m sure mixologist Scott Beattie does NOT like hearing that).

Further attempts from Artisanal Cocktails to come…

15 replies on “THE QUAFF: Thai Boxer Edition, Featuring An Epic Feat of Strength”

  1. take a hammer to the top of your shaker next time. lightly of course, but really… banging something on it does the trick.

    1. Or just hit it against the edge of the kitchen counter (sometimes you’ll see bartenders smack a shaker against the bar to open… this somehow doesn’t sound very pleasant but it works).

  2. Thanks for the Empire Strikes Back references – I actually guffawed at my computer screen. I am not a drinker, but these photo spreads of your explorations into the various drinks I believe I could change my mind.

    Happy New Year “B”!

  3. The whole shaker thing takes me back about 30+ years to a time when I sold pot to the other ‘girls’ in my S.F. neighborhood. Money was tight for seemingly everyone in those days (kind of like now) and there was always someone knocking on our door with a thinly-disguised excuse to come inside and, hopefully, catch us in the act of firing one up. We unstuck bowls, glasses and shakers on a regular basis.

    On a side note (to my comment, not your post!) I have enjoyed many a Thai Boxer and suspect your herbs were either too far out of season or not thoroughly muddled. It just now occurs to me that possibly an ingredient may have been left out of the recipe (or a quantity changed) because the ones I get at my local watering hole are a grassy, slightly spicy coconut treat!

  4. I’d try muddling the herbs with the rum before adding the other ingredients, it should help extract much more flavor.

  5. YAY made my day. I really loved that the top wouldnt come off the shaker and you documented the whole feat. THAT is good journalisim right there. THANK YOU

  6. finally a rum drink, but then it has coconut milk in it (which I don’t like). Oh well- I think it’s funny that your aunt bought you such a gigantic shaker. I guess that she knows your love of a quaff too well. Also- I giggle every time I see the word “reamer” in these posts. I know it’s juvenile, but it’s still funny.

  7. Don’t those bananas really SMELLL? And will they make your banana bread slightly garlicky? Am staying tuned re those black bananas

  8. i wish we had audio to capture the sudden exclamations of joy and triumph that erupted when the top popped off!

  9. “Too bad I didn’t have lemongrass too”
    Let’s rectify that. My lemongrass is relentlessly invading other species. I can bring a lot over. Enough that you can start a lemongrass farm.

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