Tacos al pastor might not yet be a controversial foodstuff in NYC, but in Mexico City the widespread adoption of this shawarma-inspired snack has led to a diverse array of preparations — and with them, just as many conflicting opinions. “Everyone thinks they know where the best one gets made,” writes chef Alex Stupak on his restaurant group’s blog.
Stupak loves the combination of pork, pineapple, onions, cilantro, and salsas so much that he opened a restaurant devoted to the dish, and his arrival on St. Marks Place last year incited strong feelings in Jeff Bell of PDT (113 St. Marks Place; 212-614-0386), one of NYC’s most storied drinking dens.
Bell, head bartender of the not-so-secret secret bar, went searching for ways to replicate the spicy-porky flavors of al pastor in a cocktail and found fruity salvation in bottles of Pok Pok Som pineapple drinking vinegar, Cabeza blanco tequila, and smoky, spicy Ancho Reyes chile liqueur. The drinking vinegar lends a mild fermented sourness, which Bell accentuates with lime juice.
Yeasty, grain-forward pilsner beer from Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing company plays understudy to the tortilla’s starchy role. Bell also rims the glass with the cumin-and-chile-forward N. 37 spice blend from Hell’s Kitchen specialty shop La Boîte.
However, he removed the drink from the menu once another al pastor–flavored beverage became available, thanks to PDT honcho Jim Meehan and Evil Twin Brewing’s Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. Bell tells the Voice the pair “had been speaking about a possible cocktail-beer collaboration [of Evil Twin and PDT], so Jim connected us,” adding that after they tasted through some of PDT’s vast cocktail menu, “the Pils al Pastor was the obvious choice.”
Curious imbibers can find the beer (also called Pils al Pastor) at PDT and in stores around town. Bell was also kind enough to send over his cocktail recipe:
Pils al Pastor
1 ounce Cabeza Tequila
3/4 ounce Pok Pok Som Pineapple Drinking Vinegar
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
Victory Prima Pilsner
Shake with everything with ice, then strain into an ice-filled chilled pilsner glass rimmed with La Boîte N. 37 spice blend and kosher salt (1:4 ratio). Top with 3 ounces Victory Prima Pilsner.