You Deserve a Smoked Tea Old Fashioned

You Deserve a Smoked Tea Old Fashioned
Photo: Claire Lower

I’m not one to rail against pumpkin spice coffee drinks on Twitter (because I don’t want people to think I’m old), but a pumpkin cocktail is a little much for me. I can get into apple, and cinnamon isn’t unwelcome, but they all get leaned on a bit too heavily. But smoke? That’s a flavour I can get behind.

Talking about smoke as a good thing feels slightly gauche, but until recently, I really enjoyed “smokey” as a flavour. It reminds me of (controlled, safe) fires, fallen leaves, and cosy sweaters. It’s nice! If, like me, you are still a little skittish around flames, you can give your cocktail a nice smoked character without any fire at all — you just need some smoked tea syrup.

The syrup is made with lapsang souchong — “smoked tea” — a black, Chinese tea traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood. The smoke really comes through and, when combined with lots of sugar, you get a wonderful, smouldering cocktail syrup.

You can add the syrup to a wide variety of cocktails, but I really, really like it in an old fashioned. You don’t need a lot — just a teaspoon. It gives the drink just the right amount of burnt sweetness, without detracting from whatever bourbon you happen to be enjoying. To make a smoked tea old fashioned, you will need:

  • 35mL bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked tea syrup (recipe here)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all three ingredients in a low ball and stir. Add a large ice cube, stir a few more times, and garnish with a strip of lemon zest if you feel like it, making sure you express the oils from the zest before plunking it in the glass.

Log in to comment on this story!