One would think that after a full week of terrible, hazardous air, I would have had my fill of all things smokey, but something about the change in season has me craving a smoked cocktail. I feel badly about it, but my (dumb, perverted) heart wants what it wants.
I am not, however, about to light anything on fire. I’m tired of fire and burning. Luckily, there is a very easy way to add a little bit of singed flavour to a cocktail (or lemonade) completely sans flame, and I’m not talking about liquid smoke.
I am talking about Lapsang souchong, aka “smoked tea.” It’s a black, Chinese tea traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood, and it absolutely rules. It tastes exactly how you would expect it to — rich, warm, and peaty. It’s a wonderful tea — in fact, it’s the only tea I like sweetened — but I am obsessed with it as a cocktail syrup.
All you need to do is brew an extremely strong cup of Lapsang souchong, then add a bunch of sugar to make a syrup. Once it cools, add it to any cocktail you think needs a little bit of rich, smokey character. I made a simple sour with gin and lemon, and it was astoundingly complex for such a simple cocktail. To make your own smoked tea cocktail syrup, you will need:
- 1 cup of water
- 10 Lapsang souchong tea bags
- 1 cup of sugar
Put the tea bags in a heat-proof bowl or cup. You’ll need one that can hold at least two cups of liquid. Bring a cup of water to boil and, once it starts boiling, immediately pour it over the tea bags. Cover and let steep for five minutes. After five minutes, remove the tea bags and set them aside until they are cool enough to touch. While they are cooling, add the sugar to the hot tea and stir to dissolve. Once the tea bags have cooled, squeeze the excess tea into the syrup and stir once more. Store in the fridge for up to a month.