From floral jasmine and earthy matcha to spiced chai and smoky lapsang souchong, tea is as variable and flavorful as whisky—and when you mix the two together, delicious things happen. “Versatile ingredients like tea really enhance my cocktail repertoire,” says Katie Auth, bartender at Raines Law Room and Joyface in New York City. “Tea’s acidity, bitterness, and tannic qualities can elevate other components in a drink.”
Whisky-based Hot Toddies—a mixture of the spirit with hot tea, honey, and lemon—are classic, but cold tea also mixes well with whisky in cocktails. “Cold tea can be used on its own in such drinks as a whisky Highball, or you can make a tea syrup, which is an excellent way to integrate tea into a cold cocktail,” Auth says. “Simply mix together hot strong-brewed tea with equal parts sugar then allow to chill, and you have a flavorful ingredient to add your own spin to an Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour.”
Auth advises using lighter-style teas with delicate flavors in a cocktail—think green tea with Japanese whisky—while chai and lapsang work well with bolder scotches and American whiskeys. “Tea, like whisky, is an adaptable ingredient, and that’s why it’s one of my favorites to use behind the bar,” Auth adds.
4 Whisky and Cold Tea Cocktails to Try
Chai Tea Flip: 2 oz. blended malt scotch + ½ oz. chai tea syrup (1:1 strong-brewed tea to sugar) + ½ oz. heavy cream + 1 whole egg
Shake all ingredients with one ice cube. Add more ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a star anise pod.
Jade Highball: 2 oz. Japanese whisky + ½ barspoon matcha green tea powder + ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice + ¾ oz. simple syrup + seltzer water
Shake all ingredients except seltzer vigorously with ice. Strain into an ice-filled Highball glass and top with seltzer. Stir gently to combine and garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.
Chamomile Highball: 1½ oz. rye + ¾ oz. chamomile tea syrup (1:1 strong-brewed tea to sugar) + ½ oz. Laphroaig 10 year old + ¾ oz. lemon juice + seltzer water
Shake all ingredients with one ice cube. Pour into an ice-filled Highball glass and top with a splash of seltzer. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Charley Get Your Gun: 1 oz. bourbon + ½ tsp gunpowder syrup* + 1 oz. dark rum + 2 dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice in a rocks glass. Express an orange peel over the drink, then discard. Garnish with an edible flower.
*Steep 2¼ tsp. lapsang souchong tea in 2 cups boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and combine with 2 cups sugar and 2¼ tsp. crushed pink peppercorns. Stir and refrigerate overnight. Strain thoroughly and add ½ oz. Laphroaig 10 year old or any Islay scotch. Store refrigerated up to 3 months.
All cocktail recipes courtesy of Katie Auth