Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gin & Tea Cocktails- Tea Time with Earl & Dragon's Milk

When I think of England I think of tea. Tea is so important to the English that they have a standard appliance that the we don't even bother with- the kettle (here is a link for confused Americans, see Electric Kettle). When I think of liquor with the English I think of Gin, which isn't really my favorite type of spirit, but on some summer days I don't mind it with tonic. Gin however I find is much more tolerable when it is infused with tea. One of my favorite cocktails I had at my bar, and kept the English theme, was Tea Time with Earl- which was Earl Gray infused gin mixed with lemon a splash of simple syrup and a sugar rim. The drink itself is incredibly simple to make, and tea infusions take far less time than other flavors. Generally I would use four tea bags per liter of liquor and let it seep for just over two hours occasionally turning the jar upside down and then setting it back down.

Tea Time with Earl

Glass Type: Martini
Garnish: Lemon wedge
2oz Earl Gray Infused Gin
1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1oz Simple Syrup

Chill the martini glass. Place the gin, lemon juice and syrup into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Drain the martini glass and wet the rim with a lemon wedge, and then coat the rim with sugar. Strain the mixed contents into the glass adn garnish with a lemon wedge.

When I got back to the US I went to a local Chinese restaurant and bar named Empire who did a really cool Asian twist on the tea and gin combo. The drink I'm about to describe here is my take on their cocktail, called Dragon's milk. It's a mix of green tea infused gin, pandan syrup, coconut milk, and Thai basil. I experimented with a few different ratios and found that I liked a version that had a bit of green tea also added to it. Before we get to the drink I may need to explain some of the ingredients. Green tea infused gin I made in the same manner as the Earl Gray gin mentioned above. Pandan syrup and Thai basil should hopefully be available at any local Asian market. For me unfortunately I could not find pandan syrup, but did find the leaves- which Google assured me I could make the syrup from.
Pandan Leaves & Mortar & Pestle
 To make the syrup you chop about 120g of leaves into small pieces and can either use the traditional method of pounding them into pulp with a mortar and pestle, or you can use a food processor. Once this is done let the pulp seep in about a cup of simple syrup mixture for a couple hours. For those who don't know, simple syrup is made by mixing equal parts water and sugar, then bringing it to a boil and removing it from heat as soon as the sugar has been fully absorbed into the water. This seemed to work fine for me.

Dragon's Milk

Dragon's Milk

Glass Type: High Ball
Garnish:  Thai Basil
6-8 Thai Basil Leaves, thinly chopped
2oz Green Tea Infused Gin
1 shot Coconut Milk
1/2 shot Pandan Syrup
Additional coconut milk or green tea as desired

Place the chopped leaves, gin, pandan syrup, and coconut milk in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into highball glass and top off with any combination of additional ice, coconut milk or green tea. Too much coconut milk made the drink a bit too creamy for my liking, and a little extra green tea I found quite nice. Some may prefer more coconut however, and if I had made my own fresh coconut milk as opposed to canned, I probably would have added more. Either way the classic play of pandan and coconut is great in this drink. 

As a short bonus, I had a lot of extra green tea infused gin lying around after making these and decided to play with it a bit. I muddled a couple leaves of Thai basil with palm sugar, added the juice of half a lime and 2oz of gin. This was a good drink, and I'd recommend it if you happen to have the ingredients lying around.

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