If COVID-19 cheated you out of a tropical vacation this year, Rusconi’s American Kitchen has a simple solution: Hop aboard the Pineapple Express. This wanderlust-inspired tipple unites tequila and pineapple for a trip to Jalisco and Hawaii, all in one glass. “We really need that right now, don’t we?” chef-owner Michael Rusconi says of the cocktail escapism. “Any little thing to change the mood of this pandemic is big right now.” To that end, Rusconi is offering the specialty cocktail as an off-menu feature for in-restaurant dining as well as to go. Served in “unique and sexy-looking” 12-ounce jars with “a quilted look to them,” the two-serving cocktail ($16) is strong and sweet in the tiki tradition and pairs well with seafood, especially shrimp or scallops, according to Rusconi.
To punch your Express ticket at home, peel and cut two whole ripe pineapples into cubes. Place in a large Mason jar and cover with 1½ bottles of blanco tequila. Seal and let sit for seven to eight days (refrigeration not required). Remove pineapple and strain mixture twice to remove pulp. In a mixing tin, combine 4 oz. of the juice-tequila mixture with fresh vanilla syrup (simple syrup infused with a vanilla bean) to taste, shake with ice and pour into a martini glass. Top with a brûléed pineapple garnish*. The refrigerated mixture will last three weeks.
*To make the garnish, sprinkle a slice of fresh pineapple with a little granulated sugar and use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the brûléed sugar.
Rusconi’s American Kitchen
10637 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix