There must be more to throat-soothing, cold-weather drinking than hot toddies and mulled wine. Tea can provide a glorious range of flavors as a cozy cocktail base. Here, tea expert Stephen Thomas of Rishi Tea & Botanicals and Max Green, head bartender at tea-centric bar Blue Quarter in New York City, share their go-to recipes.
I Can See Kilimanjaro
The word chai literally means tea. Masala chai is a spiced, gingery blend of black teas that’s often brewed with steamed milk. This cocktail is no exception, but it also gets a good dose of rhum agricole and maple syrup, for sweet depth.
Bring 1 ounce brewed masala chai, 8 ounces water and 8 ounces milk to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then strain into a container. Blend 3 ounces of the mixture with 2 ounces rhum agricole and ½ ounce maple syrup.
Reserve the rest for later use.
Winter in Shizuoka
Thomas recently spent time in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture, and this cocktail is inspired by that. The agave in this drink coats the throat, while the shochu brings a bit of funk.
Combine 3 ounces brewed peach-flavored green tea, 3 ounces shochu and ½ ounce agave syrup in a kettle.
Bring to boil, then serve.
Green recommends brewing extra-strong tea for cocktails, so its flavors don’t get lost. In this drink, the jamminess of the brandy and dark rum offset the astringency of the tea and lemon.
Combine 2 drops peach bitters, ½ ounce lemon juice, ½ ounce simple syrup, 1½ ounce brandy and ½ ounce overproof dark rum in tea cup.
Add 3 ounces strong black tea, then twist lemon slice over the cup and discard.
“The Montenegro [amaro] adds notes of orange blossom and bitter orange to the honey and ginger aspects of the cocktail,” says Green. “Smoky aromas float on top to make this ‘toddy’ as satisfying as a flannel blanket.” Wrap up and get cozy.
Combine 1 ounce blended Scotch, ½ ounce Montenegro, ¾ ounce strong black tea, ½ ounce ginger syrup, ¼ ounce lemon juice and 2 dashes 18.21 Ginger Lemon Tincture in mug.
Spritz with peated Scotch.