More tea vicar? Tea in cocktails and a cheeky recipe.
Given that it’s national tea day, it seemed appropriate to give you lovely people a tea-themed recipe to make at home or in your bar, which got us to thinking, what bona-fide classic cocktails are there which contain tea? The answer- not many.
Tea would have been a shoe-in for many of the original punches, derived from the Sanskrit word for five and consisting of as many elements – strong, weak, sweet, sour and spice – tea would have been a popular choice for the role of “Spice”. In a modern context however, even with easy access to huge ranges of weird and wonderful brews the use of teas in cocktails is less common than you might expect.
This is in part due to the difficulty of imparting all of the good things about tea – think floral notes, structure, delicate balance between tannin and sweetness – without also inheriting all of the hallmarks of a badly made cuppa, a sort of stewy brown mess of jumbled flavours.
This in part comes from tea needing a lot of water, and cocktails needing a lot less. Cocktails NEED water as any good bartender will tell you but water brings with it its own dangers. Just the right amount of dilution and your drink will be light, crisp and elegant. Too much or too little and you’re either left with a washy glass of nothing, or a thick syrupy soup. Tea tends to push drinks toward the former when used in large enough quantities to contribute the required flavour.
The solution then, becomes one of two methods. Firstly, you can directly infuse a spirit – see the Earl Grey MarTEAni at Pegu Club NY for the best example of this we can find (and a readily available recipe). Directly infusing a spirit works fantastically well if you’re willing to chuck a whole bottle of your favourite liquor at your quest for a great tea cocktail, but what happens when you don’t want to invest quite so heavily?
Syrups, as ever, are the easy answer. Making a 1:1 syrup with a strong brewing of your favourite tea is a great, cost-effective way to harness all of the aromatic flavours without adding too much liquid to your concoction. It’s usually worth using the second brewing of whatever tea you’re into, as this will help to control the tannin levels in your syrup and stop your brew becoming too vegetal. You could quite easily make a range of tea syrups in short-time at low-cost using this method.
Debates about how to include tea aside, it’s probably time we gave you a drink to try. So without further ado, let’s do the world’s most famous tea cocktail. The Long Island Iced Tea, which, cleverly, contains no tea at all.
As with most cocktails, there are conflicting stories as to where this drink originated. Our favourite however comes from the American prohibition and that due to it looking like its namesake, it was a great cover for a bit of illicit boozing. As usual, we’re not here to give you the very original recipe but the one we have found to be the tastiest when putting it together. You will need the following:
• White Rum
• Triple Sec (Cointreau being the obvious brand)
• Blanco Tequila
• Lemon Juice
• Sugar syrup – stir together caster sugar and cold water in equal parts.
• Your cola drink of choice
• A cocktail shaker
• A measure
• A hi-ball glass
• Some cubed ice
• Some citrus slices for garnish
Into a shaker combine 12.5ml each of the gin, vodka, triple sec and white rum along with 5ml of the tequila. We choose to add less tequila than everything else due to it being very pervasive. In equal measures, when made with cheaper booze as this drink tends to be – it can take over the drink. Add to this 10ml of fresh lemon juice for acidity and 5ml of 1:1 sugar syrup.
Shake this hard with lots of cubed ice and strain into your favourite hi-ball glass. You should then fill the glass with lots of cubed ice and add a dash of your favourite cola. It’s important that you don’t drown the drink in coke, you only want enough to make it look like an iced tea!
Garnish with some slices of citrus (we like orange and lime) and sip, safe in the knowledge that the authorities won’t know you’re boozing.
Let us know how you get on making your long island, you can find us on social media across loads of platforms @copperpotbar and please get in touch if you’re looking for drinks for your venue or event, we would love to hear from you.
Lots of love.