Forget using tea just as a mixer. It's time to graduate to at-home infusions, steeping your spirits in a calming, cleansing, energizing dose of Earl Grey or jasmine. The resulting liquor will bear a fresh, herbaceous edge that adds earthiness and support to tropical fruit, vermouth, or bitters.
In his treatise on green cocktails and sustainable spirits, Organic, Shaken and Stirred, beverage guru Paul Abercrombie offers simple instructions on how to achieve tea-infused bliss all on your own, along with tea-centric updates on the classics. Abercrombie suggests sticking to organic alcohol whenever possible, citing the ultimate in mixology wisdom: "No drink ever rises above the quality of its ingredients."
If tea isn't your bag (sorry), don't miss Abercrombie's take on other ways to get the most out of fresh fruit flavors in your cocktails, especially his intruiging instructions to break out the grill.
Green Tea Infused Vodka
Combine 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves or 1 tea bag of organic green tea with 1 cup organic vodka and let steep for two hours. Strain or remove the tea bag; the vodka will keep in an airtight container in a cool place or the fridge for up to 6 months.
Pear Tea Martini
2 oz Green tea-infused organic vodka
2 oz Pear cider
1 slice Pear, unpeeled
Combine the infused vodka and cider in an ice-cube filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, then strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass. Gently drop in the pear slice.
Earl Grey Infused Rum
Combine 1 tea bag Earl Grey tea and 8 oz of rum and let steep for 1 hour. Remove the tea bag, then pour the mixture into an airtight container. The infused rum can be stored in a cool place or refrigerated for up to 6 months.
Earl Grey Boxcar
1 1/2 oz Earl Grey infused Rum
1/2 oz Punt e Mes Italian vermouth
1/2 oz fresh organic pineapple juice
1/2 oz freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
1/2 oz freshly squeezed organic lime juice
1/4 oz apricot brandy
Dash of Angostura bitters
1 thin slice of organic lemon
Pour the infused rum, vermouth, fruit juices, brandy, and bitters into an ice cube-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, then strain the mixture into a martini glass and garnish with the lemon slice.
Recipes reprinted from Organic, Shaken and Stirred by Paul Abercrombie, courtesy of Harvard Common Press, 2010.