Monday, December 19, 2011

A Tea Cocktail to Lift Holiday Spirits

Tea is the perfect caffeinated boost for festive cocktails in this most spirited of seasons.

Tired of Red Bull induced heart palpitations? But still looking for a pick-me-up in your evening cocktail?  Try tea instead!

This season can be tough to survive.  Party hopping late on weeknights, follows with tired workdays and rolls right into crazy family time.  Keeping up the energy for all that celebrating can be difficult without a little help.

But the energy drink and vodka thing is so college.  For more gentle stimulation, tea mixes the perfect dose of caffeine with some serious flavor that works well with a variety of spirits. 

Spicy black teas like chai contain all those “pie” notes- clove, cinnamon, nutmeg- that we have come to associate with this time of year.  But I’m partial to the lighter flavor and milder dose of caffeine found in green tea. 

To use tea in a cold cocktail, all you need to do is brew double the strength you would if you were drinking tea straight- that is two teabags or two teaspoons of full leaf tea per eight ounces of hot water.  The extra strong tea ensures it won’t dilute too much over ice. 

For my softly buzzing green tea cocktail to lift my holiday spirit, I like to use a green tea infused with pomegranate, a fruit very much in season this time of year.  Vodka or gin makes a simple spirit base to which I add lime juice and an herb infused simple syrup for a punch of flavor.  Rosemary and bayleaf steeped syrup work wonders in this drink and leftovers can be saved for future cocktail experiments.  For garnish, a sprig of herbs, twist of lime, or even a few pomegranate seeds make for an elegant presentation on a simple and festive drink. 

Now there’s a cocktail that gets my heart all a flutter, in a good way. 

Pomegranate-Rosemary Green Tea-Tail
Makes 1 Cocktail

Herb Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves

2 tea bags or 2 teaspoons full leaf Pomegranate Green Tea
8 ounces hot water
1 ½ ounces vodka
½ ounce lime juice
Garnish: Lime wedge, Rosemary, and/or pomegranate seeds

Heat sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat.  Transfer syrup to a small airtight container.  Add rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.  Close lid and place syrup in the refrigerator for a minimum of overnight. 

To make cocktail, pour eight ounces of hot water over tea or tea bags.  Let steep for three minutes.  Discard tea leaves or teabags.  Let liquid cool to room temperature.  In a highball glass, mix vodka, lime juice, and ½ ounce of the herb syrup.  Fill glass with ice.  Pour cooled tea over mixture and stir.  Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig, lime wedge, or pomegranate seeds. 

Note: the syrup will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator for use in this or other cocktails. 

Amy Powell is a food and travel writer based in New York City. She is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and the French Culinary Institute. Follow her on Twitter @amymariepowell

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