This past weekend I was a guest of Society Lounge and Tea Lab Cleveland at a blogger brunch event where I was introduced to the world of tea cocktails. Yes, you read that right - cocktails infused with tea. This event was particularly interesting to me because I’m a fan of tea (being Indian, it is practically in my blood), and because I’m a huge fan of weekend cocktails.
The morning started off with Society Lounge owner Joey Fredickson educating us on how to infuse alcohol with tea. In my mind it was some complicated ritual where you brewed tea etc. but turns out, it is as simple as pouring the liquor over tea leaves and letting them sit for 3-5 hours. Joey recommends that you start tasting your infused liquor at about 3 hours so that you don’t over-infuse it. If you’re using tea leaves, you the strain the liquor using some cheesecloth and then your infused liquor is ready for mixing!
Joey’s cocktail selection for the day included a Bombay Government Punch (keep reading for the recipe), East India Exchange - a gin and rum drink, Figgy High Balsamic - a rye cocktail, Aunt Viv - a mezcal cocktail, and a non-alcoholic fizz.
The cocktails were accompanied by some lovely little sandwiches - smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and dill, and avocado sandwiches, a hummus and veggie plate and some cheese and crackers. The only thing missing from a traditional high tea service was an extensive selection of pastries and tea cakes.
If you would like to make your own tea infused cocktail, I recommend the Bombay Government Punch, made the same way it was in 1694. The word “punch” comes from the Hindi word “panch” which means “five”. Traditionally, a punch would include 5 ingredients, one being whatever alcohol was brought in by visiting sailors. Other ingredients typically included herbs, sugar, and an acid.
Bombay Government Punch recipe
1 x 750 ml bottle of your favorite rum
1 x 750 ml bottle of VSOP Cognac
2 cups demerara sugar
12 freshly juiced limes
7 cups of water
Fresh ground nutmeg for garnish
Add 3-4 tablespoons or 3-4 tea bags of your favorite high-quality tea to the rum. Set aside for 3-5 hours. Start tasting at 3 hours to ensure that the taste is to your liking. Strain to remove tea leaves.
In the meanwhile, mix 3 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar and heat over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool. If you have a Vitamix, you can do this step in the Vitamix, which naturally heats up with the soup setting. Make sure you cool after you mix. Add in the juice of 12 limes.
Once the two mixtures have cooled to room temperature, combine the infused rum, cognac, and simple syrup in a punch bowl, and add remaining 4 cups of water. You may also substitute with 4 cups of club soda if you prefer a bit of fizz.
When you are ready to serve, add ice to a rocks glass, and pour punch over it. Garnish with a quick grate (one-two passes are plenty) of fresh nutmeg.
Toast to friends and enjoy!!
PS: Please tag me on social media if you end up making this cocktail - I’d love to see and share your pictures!
Disclosure: I was invited to participate in this event by Society Lounge and The Tea Lab Cleveland. Special thanks to Joey Fredrickson of Society Lounge for his instruction and directing me to the recipe. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.