Cocktail: Naughty Royaltea with DIY Earl Grey Gin

 Earl Grey Gin & Soda with Strawberry short cake for a Summer tea.

 Earl Grey Gin & Soda with Strawberry short cake for a Summer tea.

Tea like the Royals....

Tea for those blessed  is about the privilege of Time, more than anything else. Who else, but the rich and idle had the time to take off an hour (or few) while day light still glimmered to sit around, lounge and drink tea?! Especially today, when life seems a ever lengthening race (to what, exactly?), the leisure of tea time seems ever more elusive.

But, there is so much merit, even if we aren't the rich and famous to pause and surrender to ourselves and positivity of tea time. A chance to re-commune with the self perhaps, or reconnect with colleagues or friends. It is harder to do as we run away with all our individual agendas, I agree. That's why once in a while, I choose to splash with an elaborate tea concept, just so, I can make time for it.

Home brewed Earl Grey Gin

Home brewed Earl Grey Gin

Recently, when I was pondering about this topic of making time, it struck me that alcohol has been a time tested resource for unwinding and collaboration offering that un-prejudiced social lubricant. Looking back, I realised that tea for the privileged, whether be it the czars of Russia, Lords of Britain or the billionaires of UES, seems to have been less about the leaf tea and more (always) about spirits, from champagne to vodka to everything in between. 

It seemed rather a no-brainer that my next tea concept had to have alcohol. But, I didn't want it to be just another cocktail hour. I had to have a connection with the tea itself. When a friend suggested tea flavored gin, the concept stuck with force!

So, I started with home infused Earl Grey Gin and finished with my favorite 5 pm cocktail with soda and lots of lime!

It is the simplest thing ever! A couple of tea bags of Earl Grey (or your choice of tea), a half bottle of gin, a strainer and you are set. Pour into a mason jar and you have your very own hipster concoction!

You really don't need fancy gin, in fact I recommend you use the cheapest and sharpest gin you have on hand. The reason being that the tea, and the more floral it is the better, will mellow out the herbaceous natural notes of the gin. What I meant to say, is that it makes it less bitter and a lot smoother. 

If you are typically averse to drinking gin for its strong taste (or you are a Vodka drinker), then I would certainly urge you to flavor your gin with tea. I also prefer caffeinated tea to tisanes and herb infusions as the for one, the caffeine counteracts the alcohol's sleep effects to an extent and two, offers a bolder counterpoint to the sharpness of the gin itself. This essentially means that you can have a prolonged tea time without falling over in stupor and still making well and good for cocktail hour..

Sláinte!

Because, we are talking tea, we must have some sandwiches and nibbles and sweets. Killing all the birds with one stone, I chose to go with Summer's classic which also happens to be rather British and very good companion to the other English things on the table (Gin and Earl Grey!) - Strawberry short cake with yogurt berry and mint frosting. Layered as it usually is served, it served as both cake and sandwich in this instance.

Use your regular sponge cake recipe for the cake. For the filling and frosting, I cooked the berries into a quick compote with no added sugar. Then creamed some yogurt with honey for a spreadable (lightly pourable actually) frosting. Layer, sprinkle mint, cooked berries and yogurt and you are sorted.

May we be never out of spirits! Cheers!


Naughty Royaltea

with DIY Hipster Earl Grey Gin

{inspired by Audrey Sanders of Bemelman's Bar in NYC}

2 T of loose leaf Earl Grey Tea (I used one with lavender in it and it was divine)

375 ml London Dry Gin or Tangueray 

To make the cocktail, for each glass:

4 oz Earl Grey Gin

1 tsp lime juice

3 cubes of ice

Soda water to top off

2 thin slices of lime

Add the tea to the gin and let steep, at room temperature, for a couple of hours. Strain and pour in a mason jar or clean bottle and store in the refrigerator thence.

To make the cocktail that is neither shaken nor stirred, start with ice in the glass.

Pour 4 ounces of prepared gin. Squeeze the lime (or add the juice).

Drop the slices of lime in and top with soda water. 

Serve immediately.