Sunday, May 23, 2010

tea julep

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Tom Waits" (MxMo IL), was picked by Andrew Bohrer of Cask Strength. Andrew's challenge was, "Let the bawdy, lovely, peculiar and obvious late night life inspire you to tell a favorite drinking tale while listening to, or being inspired by Tom Waits. Waits 40 years of drinking tunes to choose from."

I thought back to my first Tom Waits album, Bone Machine that I bought back when I was in college in 1992. Sure, I was doing plenty of drinking back then having just turned 21 and graduating from mooching nasty keg beer from fraternities to being able to go to the graduate student-populated Chapter House where they had good microbrew beers; however, none of that drinking related to the Tom Waits I was listening to back then.

When I started perusing the albums I bought later for inspiration, I began to think about what sort of drink I would make Tom if he were to stop by? Whiskey? A beer? A Manhattan? Well, none of the above. Tom has been sober for 20 years, with the Bone Machine album being one of his early dry albums. It made sense why my associations with him were less about drinking (although those associations are there, but I bought those albums much later in life), and more about his views on life such as "I Don't Want to Grow Up." Therefore, I set forth to find a craft nonalcoholic beverage like I have done in the past for friends who do not drink or happened to be driving that night.

For a recipe, I looked in Bertha Stockbridge's What to Drink which was published in 1920 right after Prohibition started and Temperance drink recipes were greatly needed by those playing by the rules. Stockbridge has been touted as "the Jerry Thomas of the 'Nonalcoholic Drink'." Her attention to detail with measurements and her preparations of syrups and the like make her recipes stand out as elegant drinks regardless of their lack of alcohol content. Since our mint patch has come back with a vengeance, I was drawn to the Tea Julep. I scaled down the recipe and paraphrased the directions a bit:
Tea Julep
• 1 quart Tea Infusion (16 oz Ban-Cha Toasted Green Tea, 3 tea bags)
• 12 spray Fresh Mint (6 sprays)
• 2 Oranges (1 Orange)
• 2 Lemons (1 Lemon)
• 1/2 Medium Cucumber (1/4 English Cucumber)
• 1 pint Ginger Ale (8 oz Blue Sky Organic)
• Sugar to taste (2 oz Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar)
Make the tea infusion and let stand for 6 minutes. When cool, pour into a bowl. Add half the mint, the oranges thinly sliced, the lemon juice, and the peeled and thinly sliced cucumber. Add sugar to taste, and let stand for an hour (I placed into the refrigerator to chill). Remove cucumber and the mint (I removed the orange slices as well). Pour 4 oz of infused tea into a glass of crushed ice. Add 2 oz of ginger ale per glass and garnish with mint and strawberries if in season. Makes 8 servings (here 4).
While the drink took a lot longer to prepare than a regular Julep, the majority of this time was spent in the hour (I went 90 minutes) infusion time. The problem with nonalcoholic drinks is that they are indeed more labor intensive to produce something as satisfying, but the extra effort pays off and is quite the gift to the recipient who is often used to being poured a glass of soda or juice.
The Tea Julep's nose was filled with strawberry and freshly picked mint aromas. On the sip, sweet ginger and mint were up front, cucumber in the middle, and tea on the swallow. Indeed, I was quite surprised and pleased at how much the cucumber flavor leached out of the slices; however, I found the amount of orange notes to be disappointing. Finally, the lemon and the soda donated a refreshing level of crispness to the drink.

I have no clue if this drink would fit Tom's palate but I am sure he would appreciate the effort. I would definitely have a backup pot of coffee waiting, just in case.

No comments: