By admin | November 4, 2011

Photo: Caroline Scuro

By: Ashley Bode

Heading out on a Friday night, you might not expect to find yourself sipping on a cup of tea, unless that tea is spiked. Spirit makers and bartenders nationwide are realizing our love affair with tea and have taken this inspiration to the limit.

Starting with the Long Island Iced Tea, bartenders have been mixing up drinks meant to taste like tea for years, but it wasn’t until recently that they’ve turned the creativity up a notch. Uptown at Red Rooster, you can find yourself sipping on an Earl of Harlem, an Earl Gray tea, bourbon and coriander spiced drink and in a downtown tiki-bar you can choose from three different tea infused cocktails, with ingredients ranging from hibiscus and lemongrass to mango black tea infused applejack brandy.

So what does the addition of tea add to your libation other than a little caffeine? There’s a lot of hype in the benefits of tea, whether it be antioxidants or relaxation, it is doubtful the benefits of tea are not ousted by those less than stellar qualities in alcohol. But in terms of mixology, tea serves as the perfect mixer. It is naturally tannic, and cuts the acidity of spirits and mixers to create a smooth, balanced blend.  When infused properly it goes with nearly every spirit since there are just as many kinds of tea as there are alcohol.  Nearly everyone is familiar with tea and has some blend that they prefer, so tea truly does make the perfect mixer.

There are three different ways to achieve the perfect tea based cocktail. The first would be to hunt down the nearest mixology bar since they are sure to have the best concoction. Second, would be to check out your finest local liquor store who will most likely have a tea infused brand in stock (check out Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka or Voyant Chai Creme Liqueur.) The third, and most rewarding way would entail infusing your own spirit of choice and creating a truly unique and exclusive dram. Just remember, tea is meant to infuse, so it does so much more rapidly than using herbs and spices!

Ginger Tea Tonic Recipe

Ingredients:
3 ounces ginger peach tea infused gin (see recipe below)
1/2 ounces aperol
tonic or soda water

Method:

  1. Mix ginger peach tea infused gin and aperol into a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice and finish with soda or tonic water, depending on desired sweetness.

Ginger Peach Tea Infused Gin Recipe

Ingredients:
1 750 mL bottle of gin, try something smooth and balanced for optimal infusion–I like New Amsterdam and Aviation, both are two of the less “fruity” gins on the market
4 tablespoons loose Ginger Peach Tea, Republic of Tea brand

Method:

  1. Pour gin into a separate container with a lid. Measure out tea and add to gin. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least two hours. Strain gin, removing all tea leaves and pour back into original bottle. Gin will keep once refrigerated.

Photo: Carolina Scuro 

For more of Ashley’s tips and recipes, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

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