Fall is here and not a minute too soon. The best of summer is behind us, but there are many beautiful nights ahead. But what to drink? You don’t always want something super-fruity and tropical, but neither is it time for hot buttered rum. (Have you ever tasted that, actually?)
Here’s a lovely cocktail for shoulder season. You can make it alcohol-free, too, but the alcohol in this is so subtle, it melds into the other flavours. I used vodka as a blank slate upon which to blend them: you want more of the bergamot, the orange, and the tea leaf against the milk, with the alcohol just barely there.
This is my idea of a White Russian but with tea. I start with a cup of my Iced London Fog recipe, which is basically Earl Grey tea cold-steeped in milk overnight with honey and vanilla. Then I add the vodka (plain is fine, but Grey Goose orange is delightful here), orange liqueur and my special Earl Grey Simple Syrup. I often keep this tea-milk in the fridge, using it as a host for protein powder as often as for vodka.
I say special because unlike most Earl Grey simple syrups, which are made from an infusion of tea leaves that are strained out, this sweet goo is made using microground tea. Tea leaves ground down into a silty, fine-grained powder made for tea lattes. Except here they are suspended (mostly) in sugar syrup. This provides viscosity and texture for a full, smooth mouthfeel, and intensity of flavour moderated by the sweetness.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to soak some loose leaf tea in milk overnight, then just use plain milk. This syrup will bring you up to speed real quick. Simply add an extra spoonful. Just remember that you are ingesting the tea leaves, not drinking an infusion, so while it will hit you a little more slowly, both the caffeine and theanine will arise in your nervous system with greater intensity. In a delightful, blissful, mellow manner. A drop of vanilla wouldn’t hurt, either, since that’s in a London Fog. Or better yet, throw a spent vanilla bean in the syrup when you make it.
The recipe for the Earl Grey Simple Syrup is found here. Five minutes to a fabulously versatile and full-bodied ingredient!
- 1 cup Iced London fog or plain whole milk (see below)
- 1 ½ oz. vodka
- ½ oz. orange liqueur
- 1-4 tsp. Really, Really Strong Earl Grey Simple Syrup (see below)
- Add all ingredients to a cocktails shaker filled with ice. Shake until frothy.
- Pour over more ice.
- Garnish with orange of any kind.