Session Cocktails may be located in the Crimson Tide’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but it’s not your average college bar. General manager (and passionate mixologist) Qadeem Hassan likens it to a cocktail lounge you might find in New York City, L.A., or Atlanta, with a drink list centered around pre-Prohibition and modern classics, plus a few original staff creations. One of the latter, the Ring My Bell, was inspired by Hassan’s recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina. “Most places I visited were using fresh ingredients in unique ways on their menu, such as shrubs, juices, bitters, and syrups,” he says.
Hassan spent months perfecting the recipe (“I changed the glassware three times, the garnish twice, the ingredients four times, and the type of ice,” he admits), which features bell pepper syrup and tequila. It’s pepper-forward but not spicy, making it suitable for a wider audience. “So many tequila drinks are made with jalapeños, which can be uncomfortable for some,” he says. “The aroma of the sweet-pepper garnish gives off a hint of spice on the nose but is a subtle taste, so you really get to enjoy the flavors.”
Replicating the drink at home is simple enough, though you will need a blender or cold-press juicer to extract the bell pepper juice. Pro tip: “Use a good reposado tequila,” Hassan says. “It doesn’t have to be expensive, but you want to use one that has good notes of oaks and vanilla.”
As for the drink’s name, it’s not just a nod to the starring vegetable. “The cocktail was originally named ‘From The Garden,’ until one day ‘Ring My Bell’ by Anita Ward was playing in the background as I was taking notes,” says Hassan. “It was instant destiny from that point. The sexy, vibrant vibe of the seventies club hit fit the drink so well.”