Saturday, January 23, 2010

gin tea punch

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Tea" (MxMo XLV), was chosen by um, well me. It was an idea that had been brewing since the late spring and when I mentioned it to a few people at Tales of the Cocktail in July, the reaction was quite positive. So shortly after that, I got into the venerable queue and awaiting my turn at hosting Mixology Monday. Part of the my description for this theme was to, "Find or concoct a drink recipe that uses tea or tisane (a herbal "tea" which lacks tea leaves) as an ingredient. This can be hot tea, cold tea, tea syrups, or infusions and use it in a cocktail, punch, or other drink type."

I was teetering between new school and old school recipes and I decided to let my elders guide me for this one. After flipping through Jerry Thomas and having either tried them or being discouraged by a gill of "warm calf's foot jelly" in some of them (true, there are a few tea-containing ones still left to try), I went to one of his disciples -- Kappeler. George J. Kappeler in his 1895 Modern American Drinks book had a bottled punch that seemed rather intriguing. The recipe for the Gin Tea Punch was the following:
Grate off the yellow part of the rinds of six lemons into a punch-bowl, add one pound cut-loaf sugar, the juice of the six lemons, half a pint of boiling water; mix well, add two quarts Old Tom gin. Infuse one teaspoonful coriander seeds in a pint of boiling green tea for twenty minutes, then add while hot to the mixture in the bowl, stir well and when cold strain, bottle, cork and seal. Keep in a cool place.
Not wanting to make the full complement of this recipe, I scaled it down eight fold such that the ingredient list was:
• 3/4 Lemon (~1 1/4 oz Juice, 3/4 Rind)
• 2 oz Sugar (Turbinado)
• 1 oz Boiling Water
• 8 oz Old Tom Gin (Hayman's)
• 1/8 tsp Coriander Seed
• 2 oz Green Tea (Japanese green tea + boiling water)
I upped the zest and juice to a full lemon since we prefer our drinks a little on the drier and crisper side of things. With the use of a microplane to zest the lemons, a microwave to reheat the tea and coriander seed part way through, and a tea towel to strain the punch at the end, the project did not take all that long. It would have had I not scrapped the plan to coffee filter strain the punch; the filters were clogging at such a fast rate that I figured that I could deal with a little cloudy sediment in the glass. I stored the punch in a bottle for 4 days to allow for a little extra flavor blending before we tasted it last night.
The punch's aroma was full of gin botanical and lemon notes. The sip presented a sweet and spicy tea flavor that was bolstered by the gin and citrus. Subsequently, the coriander and some of the gin botanicals sang through on the swallow. The tea and coriander's bitter notes and the lemon were rather well balanced by the sugar content of the punch. Overall, the Gin Tea Punch was a rather elegant concoction for the late 1800s and was probably quite handy for entertaining on a moment's notice given its bottled shelf life.

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