Friday, November 15, 2013

Ti(n)sanity!: Jane Porter

As I mentioned way back in August, I'm working on more (and advanced) ideas for this Ti(n)sanity! series, my look at all the various ways you can use tea in a cocktail; for grins and flavor-tracking consistency, Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer herbal tea/tisane serves as my Macguffin. *points downwards to the Disclaimer*.

This particular iteration backtracks a little bit, back to the syrup-level found in the Lullaby Sangaree and Insufferable Creole Minx (linked below) and is the second part of a "fancy orgeat" exploration that started with Giganta. Tea syrups, be it Earl Grey or Chai or Lapsang Souchong, are quite common anymore amongst the cocktail set. But what prevents them from being more complex entities beyond tea + sweetener? In my experience cocktailing, something herbal like a tisane lends itself quite well as an accent note or flavor enhancer -- so why not enhance a single ingredient as well as its cocktail?

But why orgeat? At first glance, orgeat, a sweetened nut milk syrup with hydrosol accents, already seems to have a lot of complexity going for it. The nut oils lend a pearly opacity to a cocktail, as well as an evanescent rich sweetness enhanced by the traditional rose and/or orange blossom water hydrosols. Really, you could play around with the nuts, the sugars and the hydrosols (why not lavender or mint or any other herbal flavor you can dream up?) to your hearts' content and leave scads of combinations on the table. But if those three components are customizable, then how about the final, most innocuous ingredient, the water?

Enter the tisane, whose delicacy functions much as the hydrosols do, by not overpowering the nuts' subtlety*. Flavoring the water produces more of a shade or tone to the syrup, though, bringing notes which can make themselves felt even while using scant amounts of orgeat in a cocktail.

*conversely, if using a coffee, it's the nuts' richness which gets paired with the water flavoring, as countless international coffee cocktail recipes attest.

Now, to the featured cocktail itself. The initial dreaming was for a more Jane-of-the-Jungle variation on my Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini Punch, which, with the intersection of this orgeat idea blossomed into 3 recipes. You'll have to wait to see JotJ until I can get my rums in order (which'll be soon enough), but for now let's take this other side street back onto Ti(n)sanity Ave. for a look at the lady before she met the jungle (and her Lord Greystroke): Jane Porter.

Jane Porter
1 1/2 oz Tanqueray Malacca
1/2 oz ruby port
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Tension Tamer orgeat, recipe below
2 dashes Abbott's bitters
3/4 oz egg white
lime zest for garnish

Give all the ingredients a good dry shake (sans ice - I find adding the spring from a Hawthorne strainer to the shaker helps things froth well).

Add ice and shake to chill and dilute.

Double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Garnish with fine-grated lime zest if desired.

Gin-herbal and bright with almond-berry sweetness, but also dry on the tongue with port/lime acidity and egg white. Regular almond orgeat would stick out like a sore thumb with its brightness, but the herbal-vanilla quality of the Tension Tamer folds that flavor into the Malacca to produce something much more seamless. Abbott's bitters, native to Baltimore as Jane herself was, offer an understated taming note that meshes invisibly with the other ingredients. At first glance, it's a frilly pink drink for a proper young woman, replete with gin and tea and a youthful energetic fortified wine -- but there's Tiki around the edges and in its very soul, right to the tropical notes in the Malacca.

This recipe development was a trial. The ratios settled themselves out easily enough, and I found out that this recipe is quite similar to the Crimson cocktail (not sure if it's named for the color and/or the Harvard newspaper, though it seems classic-styled enough to fit) and the much more modern Anne Bonny (like-minded gal-badass-themed kudos, Rafa!).

[Edited to add, 01-24-2014: Just found on one of my favorite port cocktail recipe pages, natch, the ratios bear much similarity to the Saint Valentine]
[Edited to add, 01-29-2014: And another! The funky Dr. Phibes from Rated R Cocktails.]
[Edited to add, 02-23-2014: The Tiki-compliant Queen's Park Hotel Super Cocktail. Is this the foundational cocktail for the spirit/lime juice/red fortified wine/syrup-or-liqueur model?]
[Edited to add, 03-08-2014: Salvatore Daiquiri, with Cherry Heering and Averna]

But to the point: this cocktail needs the freshest lime and port possible. I'm sure you know how quickly both ingredients can fade and go "off", even when refrigerated, dear reader. Doubly so since they provide "sharp" notes, as they say in punch parlance.

Regular tea and almond-creamed tea.
Stay tuned! Many more ideas yet to come!

Tea/tisane-based orgeat
1 tea bag
1 cup boiling water
2 oz chopped almonds
1/3 cup sugar
3 drops rose water or other hydrosol

  1. Brew a strong cup of tea with the tea and water (until the tea is cooled). 
  2. Reheat the tea until quite hot, then pour 1/3 cup over the chopped almonds in a mug or other heat-safe container. Cover and let sit for 4 hours.
  3. Strain the almond milk-tea through a cheesecloth-lined strainer and use the cheesecloth to wring out every last drop from the nuts.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the same nuts and liquid to further extract the almond oils. 
  5. Add sugar to finished liquid and stir/shake to dissolve. Finish with rose water.
  6. Store in the refrigerator and let rest before using. Makes about 1/2 cup, upsize as desired.
I tend to avoid a third "process" (steps 2 & 3) because you start getting a cooked-almond flavor from the applied hot liquid. So long as you give the nuts an adequate soak, you'll get plenty of flavorful almond oil.

Previous Ti(n)sanity recipes:

Wind Whisperer (gin and ouzo)
Eire Light (irish whiskey)
Hit the Road to Dreamland (rum)
Lullaby Sangaree (madeira) and Insufferable Creole Minx (bourbon, gin, madeira)
T. T. Punch (rhum agricole)
Me-tea-orite (single malt scotch)
Introduction and eThéreal Toddy (grappa)

Disclaimer: this is a non-sponsored post. Also, I'm not looking to do sponsored posts. I just really like this tea, is all, and have a policy of happily and independently buying all my ingredients.