The Southern Earl Grey

This Champagne Tea Cocktail has been served on multiple continents and is a perennial favorite at L’Espalier in Boston.  It has also become a staple in classes as it combines two classic approached to tea cocktails, tea simple syrup and tea infused alcohol.

When selecting the Bourbon to infuse, use a good quality that you would be willing to drink, but not a truly top shelf bourbon.  Save your finest bourbons for sipping straight!

The Southern Earl Grey
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This cocktail plays up on the citrus notes of the Earl Grey tea while gaining depth from the tea and splash of bourbon. The infused bourbon and simple syrup would be made in advance and stocked into your bar, allowing this cocktail to be finished in seconds.
Servings Prep Time
1 cocktail 5 minutes
Cook Time
1 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 cocktail 5 minutes
Cook Time
1 minutes
The Southern Earl Grey
Print Recipe
This cocktail plays up on the citrus notes of the Earl Grey tea while gaining depth from the tea and splash of bourbon. The infused bourbon and simple syrup would be made in advance and stocked into your bar, allowing this cocktail to be finished in seconds.
Servings Prep Time
1 cocktail 5 minutes
Cook Time
1 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 cocktail 5 minutes
Cook Time
1 minutes
Ingredients
Infused Bourbon
Ginger and Oolong Simple Syrup
Servings: cocktail
Instructions
  1. Add first four ingredients to a Champagne flute. Fill with sparkling wine of your choice. Optionally garnish with a curl of orange zest
Infused Bourbon
  1. Place the boubon in a non-reactive container. Add tea leaves. Steep for 3 or more hours until desired strength is achieved. Taste periodically. Actual steep time will depend on the level of bergamot and the size of the leaves being used as well as your personal preference. Strain multiple times through cheesecloth or filters until completely clear. Store at room temperature or chilled.
Ginger and Oolong Simple Syrup
  1. Place sugar and water into a saucepan. Stir sugar up from the bottom, squeeze in citrus and add ginger. Place over medium-high flame and bring to a boil. Turn down to low and let simmer until a clear thick syrup is formed, about 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the tea leaves and let sit until cool. The infusion may be left overnight at this stage if desired. Strain and store chilled.
Recipe Notes

Infused alcohol is a cornerstone of creating tea cocktails.  It allows for endless possibilities for creating something that is completely new, or simply a variation on a favorite classic.  It also has the added benefit of allowing the time consuming aspect of the cocktail to be done in advance when spare time permits ('side-work' in industry parlance) so that at service time your tea cocktail can be made quickly and consistently.

Tea infused alcohol is quite shelf stable if it is strained thoroughly.  Be sure to strain it through multiple layers of cheese cloth,  tea or coffee filters, or the finest of sieves.  If strained so that no particulate matter remains, whether tea leaves, spices, dried fruits, flower petals or whatever your chosen ingredients are, it will hold for weeks.  This allows you to stock these infusions into your bar for easy access and further creative combinations.


When considering the ratio of leaf to alcohol, as well as the infusion time, you must consider what the desired results are.  In the case of the Earl Grey infused bourbon, it is not intended to be sipped directly, and only 1/2 ounce is used in the final cocktail.  For this reason, it is infused with a relatively large amount of leaf for a relatively extended period of time, so that the flavors and aromatics in that small amount used can carry through.  If you are planning on an alcohol infusion to be consumed straight, or with a more significant amount used in the final drink, then you would want your infusion to be more subtle and the infusion time will most likely be measured in minutes rather than hours.

Taken to the other extreme, tea can be an excellent part of creating your own house-made bitters where only a few dashes would be used in the final recipe.  Bitters, like the use of tea in cocktails in general, can allow you to balance sweetness, add complexity, bridge disparate ingredients, highlight ingredients, tease forward various botanicals and add spice and aromatics.

 

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