As you may have seen, I’m working my way through a series of classic cocktails every week, but it’s also super fun to make cocktails for all the occasions that pop up on the calendar. It gets me to think about ingredients and mixtures that I might not otherwise get to try. My workplace has been decorated recently for Chinese New Year, and although I’m not doing anything else to mark the holiday, I thought I’d make a cocktail (or three) by way of celebration.
I started reading about all the different kinds of cocktails inspired by China and south-east Asia generally, and came to the conclusion that whatever I make has to involve tea. There are various highly complex concoctions out there involving ginger syrups, baiju, peppercorns, yuzu juice, etc, but a tea-based cocktail is a bit more accessible, and I know more about tea than I do about any of the above. If I wasn’t writing about cocktails, I’d probably write about tea instead (and maybe I will?). I used to have a huge tea collection before I left the US, and since I’ve been moving around a lot I haven’t built it back up, but it might be time to start. I found this article at Cocktail Lovers really great for firing the imagination – it’s about Hutong, the Chinese restaurant in the Shard in London, and the drinks they’ve come up with, based on principles of Chinese medicine, sound just beautiful. The team there has apparently worked with the Tea-Lady, Henrietta Lovell at the Rare Tea Company, to come up with various tea-based drinks. I’ve bought tea from there to give as gifts, although I’ve never tried it myself, but as it happens they have a whole section of tea cocktail recipes. Fortuitous!
I decided to make two cocktails, the Lapsang Old Fashioned, and the Jasmine Tail. I know it’s a bit clichéd but I might also make a Lychee Martini down the line because… I love lychees. I’ll make the Lapsang Souchong cocktail later in the week, but here’s the Jasmine Tail.
5g loose leaf jasmine tea (their Silver Tip Jasmine is recommended)
10ml Fino Sherry
5ml Elderflower Cordial
2 drops of Absinthe
Add the tea leaves to the vodka and infuse for 5 minutes, then strain the vodka. Add the vodka along with the sherry, cordial, and absinthe to a mixing glass with ice, and mix until chilled. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a twist of orange zest [realised as I was making it that I’m out of oranges].
It’s a lovely cocktail, and very delicate looking, but the absinthe and the vodka make it a little less delicate tasting than it otherwise could be. I didn’t get enough of the jasmine flavour – it is there, but it’s being bullied a bit by the absinthe, so I’d be super light on that – one drop max. Next time I also might use less vodka, and actually make the tea in some hot water and then let it cool and add that to the mix – I think that would increase its presence. I have a feeling that the Lapsang Souchong in my next cocktail will not be overtaken so easily!