Bringing Spirits to Tea
Tea has always been the civilized, bone-china sipper; the granny shawl around your shoulders. The reality is that swirling tea into a cocktail lends it an exotic richness, a leathery depth, a manning-up of flavors. And tea pairs surprisingly well with a range of liquors.
At Loa Bar, head bartender Christine Jeanine Nielsen began with a customer who wanted to try Wild Turkey Rare (barrelproofed, so it's bottled directly from the barrel and not watered down). Knowing that he liked sweet tea and whiskey, Nielsen added black tea to the barrel-proofed bourbon, "because they taste delicious together," she says.
The "Wild Carlos", as Nielsen calls it, sneaks up on you like a hunter. The bourbon's sweet tobacco and the triple sec's orange match the black tea's bold but wellrounded tannins. Adding chili simple syrup gives it a citrus-like bite.
While you're sipping, push down the mint leaves as if you're steeping them. As you reach the end of your glass, the "Wild Carlos" takes on a vaguely minty edge (and make sure to ask for it, because this cocktail isn't on the Loa Bar menu).
If you want to go in a completely different direction, try the "Aunt Pittypat", a peachlaced and frothy concoction served up at Chef Adolfo Garcia's Gusto, and named for Scarlett O'Hara's vaporous aunt. This cocktail is a veranda breeze, with peach liqueur and nectar delivering the juicy odes to Atlanta. You could have used bourbon here, but this drink is anchored instead by Absolut's teainfused vodka.
WILD CARLOS Written by Christine Jeanine Nielsen, courtesy of Loa Bar • 3 oz. Himalayan black tea leaves, steeped, strained and chilled • 2 oz. Wild Turkey Rare Breed • .75 oz. fresh lemon juice • 0.5 oz Cointreau • 1 oz. Thai chili simple syrup* • slapped mint leaf garnish
Combine tea, Wild Turkey, lemon juice, Cointreau and simple syrup in a shaker; strain over ice and garnish with mint.
Serves 1 *To make the simple syrup, stir together 1 cup demerara (or turbinado) sugar with 1/2 cup water and 1 whole Thai chili pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and let it simmer, then cool. Remove the chili, and store syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
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