Three Mocktails & a Cocktail Walk Into a Tea Party

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t have a lot of experience with cocktails. Yes, we start drinking a lot earlier in England but when I was growing up, cocktails were what you drank too much of while on holiday in Spain. Our favorites were the piña colada , the strawberry daiquri, and the tequila sunrise – complete with fancy umbrella and five-a-day fruits on a cocktail stick. But you’d never order these drinks in the local pub back home, your friends would mock you, and the bartender would hate you. Things changed a little in the late 80s when I started working in PR and discovered that ordering a Long Island Iced Tea was the magical way to get in with the cool Soho media crowd. Plus thankfully it contained no iced tea.

In 2000 I moved to the US and found Carrie Bradshaw and the Cosmo. Then to Austin Texas and all hail the Margarita (and a whole new world of tequila snobbery). I’ve survived the dirty Martini years — oh the deep delight of having olives in your drink — the arrival of flavored vodkas, those weird copper mugs for the Moscow Mule, the Espresso Martinis, a whole new profession of mixology, everything being termed ‘craft’ and round and round it goes.

They all tasted great, but oh that Chai Hot Toddy…

Am I a little late to the tea-based cocktail party? Absolutely. I’ve been here 20-something years and still haven’t embraced sweet iced tea. But I have been experimenting with cocktails and mocktails, and in honor of Dry January I’m posting a few of my favorites. And when I say favorites, I also mean ‘easiest to create.’

And because it’s also National Hot Tea Month, there’s a Chai Hot Toddy included too.

I hope you try one or two for yourselves. Let me know what you think in the comments. And if you’d like to serve cocktails and mocktails at your next tea party, send me a message via the button below.

Smoky Apple Mocktea-ni

  • Maggie Gallant pours a Truly Terrific Tea cocktail
  • Making a truly terrific tea cocktail
  • Maggie Gallant preparing to sample a truly terrific tea cocktail.

A play on the Apple Whisky Martini, you’ll enjoy this if you’re a fan of the more smoky Scottish whiskies like an Islay. The apple cider gives it just enough sweetness to create an autumnal orchard feel, and the bitters and lemon give it a hit of acidity. I’ve been experimenting with different smoky and whisky-flavored teas and I think this Lapsang Souchong version is my favorite.

What do you need?  |  Makes 2 mocktails

4 oz Lapsang Souchong tea steeped and cooled
(1 teabag or 1.5 teaspoons loose leaf)
4 oz Apple Cider 
4 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Cinnamon Stick to garnish

How to make it
  1. Combine the steeped and cooled tea, the apple cider, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold.
  2. Pour over fresh ice in a coupe or martini glass.
  3. Add a squeeze of lemon, garnish with cinnamon stick.

Bees Knees Mocktail

I haven’t touched gin in years, having overdone it a bit/lot in my youth. But I’m fascinated by the 1920s and the Bees Knees cocktail was one of the most popular drinks of that time. It’s made with gin, lemon juice, and honey. I was thrilled to discover Harney & Sons Bees Knees Specialty Blend Tea. It’s got a lovely citrus bite that then smooths into the honey, and juniper notes.

What do you need?  |  Makes 2 mocktails

4 oz Bees Knees tea steeped and cooled
(I used 2 teaspoons loose leaf)
1.5 oz honey syrup (see instructions below)
1 oz lemon juice (about 1/2 medium lemon)

How to make it
  1. To make the honey syrup: combine equal parts honey and water (roughly 2 tablespoons each if you’re only making a few cocktails) in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Warm just until you can completely stir the honey into the water. Set aside.
  2. Before juicing your lemons, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a strip or strips of zest for your twist. This is tricky and I don’t really understand how to do it.
  3. To make the cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the honey syrup, lemon juice and steeped/cooled Bee’s Knees tea. Securely fasten the lid and shake until the mixture is very cold, about 30 seconds.
  4. Strain the drink into a martini glass. Twist the lemon peel over the cocktail to release some of its oils, then drop it in.

Citrus Green-teani Mocktail

Less green and more golden in color, this one uses a citrus green tea of your choice. Note: regular green tea didn’t work as well for me, so try to find one with citrus. You get all the anti-oxidant benefits of green tea, with a lovely mouth-puckering sour to sweet profile. My husband said it tasted like posh lemonade.

What do you need?  |  Makes 2 mocktails

6oz green tea with citrus, steeped and cooled
(I used 2 tea bags Harney & Sons Organic Green with Citrus & Gingko)
3 oz lemon simple syrup made with 1 cup sugar, and 1 lemon juiced
1 strip of lemon zest for your twist

How to make it
  1. To make the lemon simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool and stir in the lemon juice. Use immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Flill a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice.
  3. Add the cooled tea and the cooled lemon simple syrup; shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Twist the lemon peel over the cocktail to release some of its oils, then drop it in.

Chai Hot Toddy Cocktail (alcoholic)

I’m not a huge fan of bourbon but I love the idea of a Hot Toddy and this one adds some spice which really seems to complement the bourbon. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I LOVED this. It’s especially good if you have a cold, Texas allergies, or the January blues.

What do you need?  |  Makes 2 mocktails

1-2 tsp loose leaf Chai Tea or 1 Chai tea bag
8 oz hot water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 oz bourbon
Lemon wedge

How to make it
  1. Steep the tea in boiling water in a mug or heat-proof glass. Discard the tea leaves or tea bag.
  2. Add the honey and stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Add lemon juice and bourbon and stir until combined.
  4. Garnish with the lemon wedge.
  5. Lie on the sofa until you fall asleep.

So that’s it. Tell me about your favorite ‘cocks and mocks’ (not official abbreviations). And as the British of a certain generation say when raising a glass, ‘bottoms up’.

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