Monday, October 6, 2014

Cocktail: No Bigger Than A Needles Eye

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I refuse to let go of summer in my glass.  Even if the calendar reads fall, the term Indian summer resonates within my thirst.  On these days that sometimes approach summer-like temperatures it’s nice to know that we can slip into fall with a certain gracefulness and liquid driven poise.

Take the brown liquors for example, like bourbon and rye.  Although I rarely stop drinking them in the summer months, the fall and winter season allows for more robust drinking opportunities for heavier and richer flavors. 

As a rule I drink iced tea year round and this refreshing ingredient acts as an antidote to dehydration.  Iced tea, in my opinion is perfectly suited as a base or as a finishing agent against mediocrity in a glass.

That’s not to say that making a cocktail without tea is boring, far from- but with the mint patch still pumping out tender green leaves, it’s my responsibility to use them.  In a few short weeks I’ll be forced to use something from the supermarket, without provenance or candor.  The soil in the garden will be too cold to force mint up from the earth and drinks will take on another perspective impossible to duplicate with mundane, store bought ingredients. 

So pick your mint now, wash it well and then try immersing some in a pitcher.  Fill the pitcher with tea bags of your choice and cool spring water.  Set into the sun, cover and let steep for the whole day.  Cool overnight in the fridge, if desired and use over the next few days.   I seem to prefer green tea, you should use what you like.

Art in the Age, the Philadelphia based collective of neo-rationalists are not only in the advertising and marketing business, but they are also in the spirits business.  One of my favorite products that they handcraft using USDA Certified Organic ingredients is known simply as Rhubarb.  This slightly pink peppercorn tinged tea rolls in at a hefty 80 Proof so it is no drooping daisy in your glass.  Rhubarb when made into a health-based “tea” (concentrate) purportedly has been known to offer powerful healing in every sip.  I just think Rhubarb lends itself easily to Moroccan mint tea in a cocktail. 

I’ve been rather fond of Templeton Rye as of late in mixed drinks of all types.  I am intrigued by the flavor and it tastes good to me.  It’s also wonderful with Mexican Coke- try it!

Quite by accident I added a couple ounces of this spicy, cinnamon tinged rye whiskey to a glass of Moroccan mint-iced tea and a drink was born!  Soon thereafter I found that the tangy qualities of the Rhubarb “tea” from Art in the Age took the Rye whiskey and the mint tea to another level entirely.  I sweetened the tea with raw honey simple syrup and finished the drink with the Bitter Truth Orange Bitters.  A few splashes of seltzer water made this cocktail into something elegant and memorable- all with simple ingredients!

I suppose it just goes to illustrate that a simple glass of mint iced tea can take on many different perspectives
from mild to robust depending on the length that you steep your tea.  My idea of real iced tea is not bitter in any way- but flavor driven.  In the summer months I make my tea with a lighter tea, like green tea or white tea.  The fall months gets an application of Jasmine tea or possibly an Indian style tea.  When the winter season comes calling, my iced tea is built from a base of Lapsang Souchong or Irish Breakfast style tea.  Whatever type of tea that you prefer to use is up to you.  Even herbal tea based on the core ingredient of mint is ok- it will just change the drink in whatever direction you should choose to go to. 

I suppose that Moroccan Mint tea would work as well should you choose a lighter flavor profile for your cocktail.  Whatever your perspective, your ingredients should be chosen with care along with what I consider to be the most important ingredient, the ice!

Please, choose your ice carefully!   I know it sounds obsessive, but that’s just what I think.  And if you prefer another type of rye or even the sweeter country cousin, bourbon, please experiment with that too!

My friend Joy Stocke- founder and publisher of the internationally renowned literary magazine, Wild River Review is my influence for this east meets west approach to the deeply cooling, Moroccan mint tea. 

It’s so easy to make, but please don’t wait too long because once it gets cold outside, your mint patch will be a memory until next year!

(Sure you can make it with store bought mint)

No Bigger Than A Needles Eye
Ingredients: for two thirsty friends or just yourself if you feel particularly debauched
1.5 oz. Templeton Rye
1 oz. Art in the Age Rhubarb tea
4 oz. Moroccan Mint Tea (2 firmly packed cups of well washed peppermint leaves without the stems to -4 cups green tea- steep the mint in the green tea overnight in a cool place, strain out the mint and sweeten to taste with honey)
1 oz. Seltzer (or fewer, just a splash really)
4-5 drops Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Mint, carefully washed (No Grit!)

In a couple of tall glasses, fill with 2x2 cubes or hand cut ice if you have the time
Add the Templeton Rye
Add the Rhubarb tea
Top with the Moroccan Mint Tea
Finish with the seltzer- just a splash!
Drip the Bitter Truth Orange Bitters over the top
Garnish with fresh mint

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.

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