Over the course of the most festive month of the year, in Spike Glee, Allison Shoemaker will explore the wonderful world of slipping some alcohol into a hot beverage. The second beverage up: hot tea.
The great thing about spiking tea is that you can pretend that it’s healthy. Here are some suggestions.
I kid, I kid, but honestly, it’s not that complicated. While the many flavors of tea make this a necessarily more complicated recommendation process than, say, hot chocolate, it’s also more fun as a result. Some of what follows will seem obvious. Some will probably seem pretty weird. That’s fine. Just remember that, as long as you also add honey and/or lemon, you can absolutely call this a variation on a toddy, which makes it practically medicine. You’re just taking care of yourself. Go on and have another.
Previous editions of this series have sorted by the flavor profile of the spirit. Here, we’ll go with the type of tea. Pinkies up!
I was just introduced to Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao this week, and it’s lingering in my mind like I’ve got a crush on it—that’s how good it is. Per The New York Times, the recipe was created after researching various 19th-century methods, and the resulting spirit, rich with the taste of Seville orange peels, cognac, grilled sugar, and other seasonings and botanicals, is just begging to brighten up a cold winter’s night. As the name might suggest, this is much drier than your everyday orange liqueur, so it’s a perfect fit for green tea—it’s not so sweet that it will kill all the flavor.
Similarly delicious: Other orange liqueurs. Just don’t get something too cloyingly sweet.
Really, any bourbon will do, but Broken Barrel from Infuse Spirits is typically a great value and is a very bourbon-y bourbon—it’s “infused” with barrel staves. The idea here is to add some sugar (preferably in the form of a simple syrup, but whatever works) and make yourself something akin to a hot julep. Garnish with a mint leaf, ya fancy bastard; even muddle some in your mug before you add everything else, if you really want to do the thing properly. As a person who loves mint tea as a calm-me-down drink, this is heaven.
Similarly tasty: Like I said, pick a bourbon. Don’t break the bank; there’s so much flavor here that the subtlety won’t come through.
I’ve written about this gem, one of my favorite spirits, before. Originally made for a nearby ramen joint, Johnny Smoking Gun is steeped with three teas (a “proprietary tea blend”) before bottling. One of them is Lapsang Souchong, and that’s the one that comes through, loud and clear. Why not double-down and pair it with the tea in question? That said, you can add this beauty to just about any tea and it’ll be heaven.
Similarly delicious: Pretty distinctive, honestly, but whiskey + tea = good, so pick one and go. Irish is a good bet, too.
Another one I’ve covered before, as an ideal hostess gift. Take any black tea that’s not particularly floral and add Journeyman O.C.G. (Old Country Goodness), an apple cider liqueur. You can thank me later. It’s a blend of apple cider, apple juice, unaged rye whiskey, and spices. It’s like drinking apple pie in the best way imaginable. Great hot (or cold) all on its own, but it also benefits from a little extra complexity. Once you have it in your fridge, you’ll never want to part company.
Similarly tasty: Starlight Distillery’s Applejack, or another apple whiskey. Good stuff, just not O.C.G.
Next up: coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee