What’s the newest, hottest cocktail ingredient? Bartenders across the country are reaching for tea to add unexpected flavor to their cocktails. But while the popularity of tea cocktails is a recent development, the practice has deep roots in history — as early as the 19th century, Americans were using tea in their punches.
But today’s creations are far more elaborate than anything the barkeeps of yore could dream up. At Victor Tangos (Dallas, TX), Matt Ragan’s “Rebel Yell” infuses bourbon with chamomile tea, then shaken into a sour with the flavors of coconut, vanilla, almond orgeat, and lemon. Powerful, smoky Lapsang Souchon tea animates the “Miami Vice” at Estate Restaurant + Bar (Santa Monica, CA), together with white rum, passionfruit and lime.
Though you’ll have to excuse the pun, “50 Shades of Earl Grey” at The Durham House (Houston, TX) has the compelling flavor of that tea along with gin, honey, and vanilla. And at SoBou (New Orleans), they’re revisiting the traditional punch — with a twist — in the “Hooch Punch,” with Satsuma, lemon, tea, whiskey, Amer Hiver, and rosewater syrup.
[Photo: Kim Duffy]