Drinks

Thirsty Thursday: What’s the Deal with Sweet Tea?

In our brand new April issue, we explore the Southern side of brunch, including a fabulous recipe for Sweet Tea Punch. But what makes Southern sweet tea different from regular iced tea? Only the way you order it. Traditionally in the north, if you were to order iced tea, it would come unsweetened. However, most southerners are drinking their tea sweet, and must specifically ask for unsweet tea if that’s how they prefer it. No matter your tea choice, there are plenty of twists and takes that will brighten your day, any time of year.

 

 

Try this recipe for Sweet Tea Punch at your next brunch or get-together, plus get our best sweet tea tips:

 

Sweet Tea Punch

9 black tea bags

3/4 cup honey

1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 large bunch fresh mint

2 pints blood orange or regular orange sorbet

1 – 2 cups American whiskey, such as bourbon or rye

Soda water

3 limes, sliced into rounds

 

In a large bowl, combine the tea bags, honey and sugar with 6 cups boiling water and stir until the honey and sugar dissolve. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard the tea bags and add half the mint. Let cool completely at room temperature. Strain; discard the mint. Chill until cold, about 3 hours.

Add one scoop sorbet to each of 8 pint glasses. Top with 2 to 4 tbsp. whiskey and a few torn mint leaves. Divide the tea among the glasses, then top with a splash of soda water. Garnish each glass with a lime slice. Serve with a straw or a long spoon. Makes 8.

 

Tip: Classic Southern sweet tea is made with white sugar, but the combination of honey and brown sugar gives this version a richer flavor. Spike the punch with as mush whiskey as you’d like.

 

Tip: The tastiest way to make iced tea is to brew it with hot water–a steamy soak extracts more flavor. But it can also make your drink murky if the tea cools too quickly. For the best results–minimal clouds and maximum flavor–let the prepared tea come completely to room temperature before sticking it in the fridge.

 

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Fast Idea Friday: Citrus Gin Spritzer

Despite the recent country-wide cold fronts, spring is just around the corner (March 20th, people!). That means you’re going to need a fully loaded recipe repertoire that will put you in the mood for sunnier, happier times. Here’s a fast idea that’s sure to put a spring in your step: A Citrus Gin Spritzer. Fresh, fruity, bubbly and strong– it is Friday, after all.

 

 

Bottoms up, get the full recipe for Citrus Gin Spritzer here!

 

 

More Fast Ideas

Pineapple & Pomegranate Salad

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English Danishes

Thirsty Thursday: Ring Around the Rita

Just because the Olympics are over, doesn’t mean your cocktail rims have to go back to being bare. With warm weather approaching soon, we’re getting ready for margarita season, and there’s always more than one way to top your tequila! Pair fruity margaritas with these new sweet and spicy rims, and you’ll have yourself enough margarita combinations to last you through spring!

 

 

1. Cantaloupe Margarita: Cinnamon & Sugar

Add sugar and spice, and this drink will taste nice! The warm heat of the cinnamon pumps up the mellow taste of the canteloupe.

 

2. Pineapple Margarita: Old Bay Seasoning & Black Pepper

This savory mixture may seem more at home in a bloody mary than on a margarita rim, but the black pepper and secret spices give the sugary juice a kick!

 

3. Strawberry Margarita: Cocoa Powder

One taste and you’ll swear you’re sipping on a chocolate-covered strawberry. How decadent does that sound?!

 

4. Cranberry Margarita: Sugar & Grated Lime Zest

Pucker up: This pairing starts out sour (thanks to a lime juice rim*), turns sweet, then finishes with a tart, cranberry-filled exclamation point!

*Tip: Dampen the rim with a lime wedge before dipping it into the mixture

 

 

 

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Happy Mulled Wine Day!

Here’s a fun fact that’s sure to ease your Monday blues: It’s Mulled Wine Day! Mulled wine is a classic cocktail that’s perfect for these chilly nights. It’s spicy, sweet and just strong enough to warm you from the inside out. While we usually associate white wine with being chilled, here’s a mulled wine recipe that calls for pinot grigio. It’s light, spiced and just sweet enough, it may even make your Monday feel like Friday. Cheers!

 

 

Spiced Mulled White Wine

 

1 lemon

1 (750ml) bottle white wine, such as pinot grigio

1/2 cup honey

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds

8 whole cloves

6 star anise pods

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

 

Using a peeler, zest lemon. In a saucepan, bring zest and remaining ingredients to a simmer over medium. Remove from heat, cover and let steep 10 minutes. Makes 4.

 

 

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Thirsty Thursday: What’s a Horchata?

You may have heard of this authentic Mexican beverage, and you may have even tried one at some point, but do you know what, exactly, a horchata is? Made from rice or almond milk, a horcahta is a refreshing, cinnamon-spiked beverage with an extensive history tracing back to ancient Egypt. As the story goes, the horchata was created to serve on hot summer days without the risk of spoilage (a true horchata is dairy-free), and is comprised of a mixture of homemade almond and rice milk, cinnamon and sugar. Our version, however, is quick and easy, but still tastes authentic as ever. The best part? You can serve it warm for these chilly winter days!

 

 

Cinnamon Horchata

4 cups unsweetened rice milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

ground cinnamon

 

In a saucepan, bring rice milk, sugar, cinnamon sticks and almond extract to simmer over medium. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, 5 minutes. Serve hot, or let cool and pour over ice. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Serves 4.

 

 

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Thirsty Thursday: Happy National Margarita Day!

National Margarita Day is a great excuse to enjoy our favorite tequila-based drink and remind yourself warmer weather is upon us! (Seriously, it has to be.) Rather than stopping by your go-to Mexican joint, mix it up and try a margarita recipe with a twist. These three cocktails put a flavorful spin on the traditional margarita, but still keep your taste buds in check with the holiday. Cheers to that!

 

Peach-Basil Margarita

Serrano-Cilantro Margarita

Mellow Yellow Margarita

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Cocktails, Anyone? The Rosy Mimosa

Just two short days stand between you and the weekend, and even less time stands between you and happy hour. No matter what time your drinking activities begin, you should enjoy this blushing twist on a brunch classic: The Rosy Mimosa.

 

 

Not only do you swap out champagne for sparkling rosé wine, but also try using the juice of a Cara Cara orange, an extra juicy, low-acidity navel orange that’s pretty in pink. Here’s the full recipe:

 

Rosy Mimosa

1 part Cara Cara orange juice

2 parts sparkling rosé

 

Combine juice and rosé in a champagne flute and enjoy! Does it get much simpler than that? Cheers!

 

 

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Thirsty Thursday: Wake Up Your Water!

Six weeks into the new year, you may feel a little less motivated to stick to some of those New Year’s resolutions. But all it takes is some smart decision-making and a little bit of effort to make healthy food exciting again. What could be easier than water?! It’s something you drinking regularly anyway, so let’s give it a facelift. Here’s how to stay hydrated and healthy.

Instead of floating a few wan slices of cucumber or orange in your H2O, puree the produce with a little water, strain it and mix in some more water. The refreshing result, known as agua fresca, will taste like a liquid distillation of the ingredient. Try it with any fruit or vegetable you love. Hydration just got a whole lot tastier!

 

 

Agua Fresca Fiesta

 

2 cups diced cantaloupe, pineapple or English cucumber, or 2 cups whole raspberries or pomegranate seeds

6 cups cold filtered water

Ice, for serving

 

1. Place the fruit (or vegetable) in a blender with 2 cups water. Blend on low speed until finely chopped but not pureed.

2. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve set over a bowl; press on the solids. Transfer to a pitcher; add the remaining 4 cups water. Skim and discard any foam that rises to the top. Pour the drink into ice-filled glasses, and enjoy all day long!

 

By Tula Karras

 

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Thirsty Thursday: Try the New Kumquatte

The baristas at Treehaus (one of our staff’s favorite coffee shops) are at it again! If you thought the Bacon Latte was unheard of, just wait until you try Director of Coffee, Tanner Jacobsen’s, newest creation: The Spiced Kumquatte. Tag lined as “A Creamsicle trapped in a latte,” this fusion of kumquat, mulling spices and vanilla will change the way you think about flavored lattes forever.

 

 

Jacobsen has put hours of thought and effort into each element of this drink, and it definitely shows. First, he combines fresh kumquats with mulling spices and reduces the liquid into a simple syrup. Then, he adds the syrup to espresso, and pours in steamed milk that has been infused with orange zest and vanilla (being the competitive latte artist that he is, you can always expect a beautiful design). He garnishes his caffeinated creation with a fresh kumquat slice that’s been soaking in the kumquat syrup, which only gets more potent and delicious over time.

 

Jacobsen recommends that you eat your kumquat garnish with a swig of the latte, as the the flavor profiles of the two go hand in hand. After nibbling, I took my first pure sip of the latte and I could tell this was going to be an enjoyable experience. Right when the drink hits your tongue, you can taste the strong flavors of espresso and spices. Only as you begin to swallow does a clean  flavor of orange hit you. The drink is both refreshing and comforting, as the mild orange flavor keeps it light while the mulling spices remind you that it’s still winter. This drink truly is a Creamsicle trapped in a latte, or as Jacobsen personally describes it, “like eating the outside layer of a Creamsicle.” At $5 plus tax for 8 ounces, Jacobsen has successfully created the most expensive specialty coffee drink in NYC (a fact in which he takes pride).

 

 

Even the handmade sign proves Jacobsen’s dedication to his line of work. But don’t wait around to get your hands on one–this latte will only be available until he dreams up something crazier. Which–judging by his creativity–will be very soon (I got a hint about a $12 frappucino for the summer…would you buy it?).

 

 

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Thirsty Thursday: Irish Coffee Week

Did you know the fourth week of January is considered to be Irish Coffee Week? Neither did we. But now that we do, we no longer need an excuse to make and drink one of our favorite seasonal cocktails every day for the next 7 days. In order to keep it interesting, though, we’ve gathered some recipes with unique takes on the classic drink, including fun ingredients like peppermint and chocolate. So grab your Baileys and get to it!

 

Hot Maine Mudslides

Baileys Cocoa

Baileys Alpine

 

Cheers to January!

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