Some food, some drink.
Summer Refreshment with the Power of Booze: Bourbon Whiskey Iced Tea.
It's summer time, and there's nothing better than sitting on the porch with a tall cool glass of iced tea; that is of course unless your iced tea is spiked with whiskey. Although sweet tea really ain't my thing, I'll make an exception where a cocktail is concerned. This Bourbon tea refreshes with a kiss of mint, quenches with two types of citrus, and goes down easy courtesy of the unfettered sweetness of raw sugar playing nice with with the flavors that make a Bourbon what it is. Forget about Tennessee Tea; hell, there isn't even any real tea in that stuff. This Bourbon tea is the real deal.
Last year about this time, I was looking around for more cocktails that might employ some of the mint that vying for the space under my pine tree, when I came across this recipe for Wild Turkey Mint Tea. I gave it a spin. It was decent, but as someone who generally eschews sweet tea, I wanted more tea and less sweet. After a [really good] summer's worth of tinkering, I think I got something that I'm willing to share. This is a Bourbon tea recipe where the tea does more than tint the water; and with the addition of citrus and mint for balance, and you've got a summer cocktail that will make a believer out of most any whiskey-hater.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Using a microwave, electric kettle or whatever, heat your water to the desired temperature. Add loose tea to the French press, pour hot water over the leaves, replace the lid of the press (taking care not to yet mash the plunger) and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Press the steeped tea according to your press manufacturer's directions and pour the hot tea into a thermally-resilient vessel, along with the sugar and the ice.
As the ice melts, juice one lemon and one lime and then slice the other two for garnish. Bruise the mint leaves by wadding them up in your [clean] hand or by bruising them with a spoon in an empty glass. Into the vessel of now-sweetened tea, stir in the Bourbon, lemon juice, lime juice and mint. When ready to serve, pour into a pitcher filled with ice and citrus slices. Serve over ice with extra mint and citrus slices.
- The instructions for making tea provided in the recipe really only scratch the surface. If you really want all the gory details for making decent iced tea, check out this post I put up a few months back.
- If you just can't be bothered to pony up the scratch for a French press and loose tea (cheap skate), then you can get by with a reasonable facsimile by steeping the quart-sized tea bags. You'll need to make the tea double strength though (that's 2 bags if you can't do the math).
- The citrus slices are as much for presentation as they are for that little kiss of essential oils. That being said, If you're not serving your tea immediately, I wouldn't add the slices o' citrus until you do. Likewise, if you're not pouring from a fancy-schmancy vessel, just save the garnish for the glasses.
- Likewise, that sprig of mint in the glass can change the flavor of the drink quite a bit (y'know, half of what you taste is smell after all).
- Plain ol' white sugar will do if don't have demerara, but I don't think I'd take it the other way and use brown sugar.
- If you like your tea wicked-sweet, you might want to even double or triple(!) the sugar. Just don't invite me over for a drink.
- The citrus tends to wanna separate to the bottom of this beverage. Have a wooden spoon at the ready to stir before pouring.
- On the subject of the hooch, you don't need top shelf, but this ain't a college kegger either. I recommend a Bourbon; and you'll want to look for something that's labeled "Straight" as the other stuff labeled "Blended" is more or less plain ol' grain alcohol that's been flavored with whiskey. If you want a cheap but totally drinkable Bourbon recommendation from me, let me refer you to a prior post.
As I mentioned before, I'm not huge on sweet tea; but this kind of sweet tea has balance. There's definitely some sweet there, but the up-front brightness of the lemon and lime keep it at bay. Likewise, there's a similar harmony going on with the freshness of the mint and the earthiness of the tea. Could you make this cocktail a virgin? Yeah probably; but you'd definitely notice there was something missing, as the whiskey is the tie that binds it all together and works to temper all those big flavors.
A lot of times when you're entertaining, you want to be classy and serve cocktails, but you don't want to spend all your time behind the bar either. The nice thing about this drink is that it's all do-ahead. As this is essentially a punch, all you really gotta do is have glasses, an ice bucket and garnishes at the ready to serve guests a proper mixed cocktail. One of my favorite applications for this beverage is to mix it all up ahead of time sans-citrus slices, and pack it in an insulated jug or thermos to take with for camping or afternoons at the lake. A cup, some ice, and a few wedges of citrus, and you're good to go.