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A Tale of Two Martinis

Bolder Martini & Earl of Grey Goose Martini

The use of tea in cocktails can contribute fragrant aromas and complex flavors. Teas are more complex than most other accents a mixologist might consider, therefore bringing a sophisticated “Je ne sais quoi” to your cocktail. Finding the perfect tea for a drink recipe is a matter of experimenting with flavor components. Whether you infuse the tea directly into a spirit or fortified wine, or add it directly or in a simple syrup, tea components can contribute in terms of flavor, bitterness, sweetness, and even astringency. This versatility can contribute in such a way as to help perfectly balance a cocktail or else bring the perfect accent to revitalize a standard recipe.

At The Tea Spot, our two runaway fan favorite teas are Bolder Breakfast and Earl of Grey. Both are strong flavored black teas—one with a chocolate pu’erh base, the other of a creamy vanilla citrus black tea character. They’re very different, but both are remarkable and not at all shy in personality. As some of our oldest signature blends we love watching these fan fave teas leapfrog each other in popularity, and I think it’s fair to say that like our fans, we love both these teas through the roof.

This holiday season, and because everyone’s become a mixologist during Covid, I’ve perfected martini recipes for each of these teas. The first is a spin on a Bolder Breakfast martini which I’d come up with over a decade ago (the Bolder Russian). The second one was developed with inspiration from my foodie neighbor Kristin, in an outstanding pear-infused Earl of Grey martini.

In its truest form, a martini is a 2:1 mix of gin and vermouth, with optional added bitters. Over the years, however, and thanks to James Bond, the lemon drop, and the latest craft cocktail rage—the ‘espresso’ martini—the term can now mean a whole slew of different mixed drinks, with either a gin or vodka base. In these recipes, I prefer the Bolder Breakfast martini on a gin base, and the Earl of Grey on a vodka base - but you should feel free to make either one with your fave tea and preferred spirit base. There’s also an easy tasty mocktail version for each.

black tea martini

Bolder Martini

(Yields four 4 oz mini-martinis)

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS Bolder Breakfast tea leaves
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 12 oz gin (note on the gin: Although I have a preference for a London dry gin to highly botanical gins, either type will work well in this recipe)
  • optional: 1-2 dashes of Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, Aztec Chocolate bitters or Angostura orange bitters

Method:

Make Bolder Breakfast syrup (Yields 4 oz)

  • Bring 1/2 c water and 1/3 c sugar to boiling point.
  • Stir and add 2 TBS Bolder Breakfast tea leaves.
  • Turn off heat, cover, and steep for 8 minutes.
  • Strain and chill.

Make Cocktail

For each 4-oz martini:

  • Add 1 oz Bolder Breakfast simple syrup and 3 oz gin to cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Roll the shaker very carefully for one full minute.
  • Strain drink into chilled cocktail glass.
  • Add a dash of ancho chile liqueur or bitters, if desired. 

Bolder Mocktini 

(Yields 4-oz mocktail)

  • 2 oz Bolder Breakfast simple syrup
  • 2 oz tonic water
  • Add both to a cocktail glass filled with ice
  • Add a dash of ancho chile liqueur or bitters, if desired.

earl of grey pear martini

Earl of Grey Goose Martini 

(Yields four 4 oz mini-martinis)

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS Earl of Grey tea leaves
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 12 oz pear-infused vodka (note: Add ripe pears to 12-oz of vodka in a mason jar, and leave to infuse for at least 6 hours. Remove pears and strain. Alternatively, use Grey Goose La Poire.)
  • Juice from one fresh-squeezed lemon (yields about 2.5 TBS)
  • optional garnishes: cinnamon sticks, star of anise, rosemary sprigs

Method:
Make Earl of Grey syrup (Yields 4 oz)

  • Bring 1/2 c water and 1/3 c sugar to boiling point.
  • Stir and add 2 TBS Earl of Grey tea leaves.
  • Turn off heat, cover, and steep for 6 minutes.
  • Strain and chill. 

Make Cocktail (Yields one 4-oz mini martini)

  • Add 1 oz Earl of Grey simple syrup with 3 oz pear-infused vodka and 2 tsp lemon juice to cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Roll the shaker very carefully for one full minute.
  • Strain drink into chilled cocktail glass. 

Earl of Grey Mocktini 

(Yields 4-oz mocktail, served in a 6 oz glass)

  • 2 oz Earl of Grey simple syrup
  • 2 oz tonic water
  • Add both to a cocktail glass filled with ice
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, if desired
  • optional garnishes: cinnamon sticks, star of anise, rosemary sprigs

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