101 Best New Cocktails: Masala Chai Punch by Tyler Fry, Side Door, Omaha
Masala Chai Punch
Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Fry, Side Door, Omaha, NE.
“As a tea specialist who got into mixology through tea, I wanted to approach this recipe as simply as possible. My goal was to recreate an authentic cup of Indian masala chai in a cocktail, by using the three staple ingredients: spiced tea, milk, and a sweetener. The only difference here, is that our tea is steeped in booze, rather than hot water. In that sense, I approached this drink from a tea perspective, rather than a mixological perspective. Once my ingredients were settled, I simply turned to a classic Brandy Milk Punch for ideas on execution; hence the name “Masala Chai Punch.” As with any Indian masala chai, everyone will have their own proprietary recipe. You can choose any blend of chai, switch the milk for half-and-half or cream, or play with different sweeteners (honey, agave, etc.) A tip of my hat to Ms. Audrey Saunders of the Pegu Club for inspiring the mixology world with tea-infused cocktails.” Tyler Fry.
45 ml (1.5 oz) Chai-Infused Rum*
60 ml (2 oz) milk
15 ml (.5 oz) rich demerara syrup (2:1)
Fresh-grated nutmeg, as garnish
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker three-fourths full with ice. Shake, shake, shake for dear life, and strain into a wine glass, snifter, or goblet. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. As the drink sits for a moment, a beautiful band of froth will settle at the top.
*Chai-Infused Rum: Measure 4 tablespoons of loose Masala Chai tea into a 750-ml bottle of rum. Let steep for 2 hours, agitating periodically. Strain out the tea and rinse the bottle before re-bottling. **Notes on the tea & rum: Preferably, choose a quality chai, which is good and strong on spice. Bold clove and cardamom flavors do well here. Try the exceptional Masala Chai from Rishi Tea, Milwaukee, WI. For the rum, higher proof means a better extraction of flavors. Your favorite white rum (or even gold rum) will do fine here, without masking the chai.
Later, when submitting a picture of his drink, Tyler wrote this: These last months have been hectic and I was unable to get around to making a new infusion of Chai-spiced rum for this one. When first I e-mailed you I was working in Omaha, Nebraska at the Side Door, bringing New York-/Chicago-style cocktail experiences to corn country. Recently, however, I have relocated to Chicago in order to learn from the big boys, and I am pleased to announce that I am now a barback at the Violet Hour. It’s a dream come true.
After finally getting settled in Chicago, I am back to my old experiments and recipes. It occurred to me I might like to adapt the Masala Chai cocktail to a more complex recipe for the Violet Hour. My thought was that a cocktail of only rum, demerara and milk would not be fitting of the Violet Hour menu. However, after numerous variations (adding an amaro didn’t seem to improve anything, turning it into a flip was unnecessary) I have confirmed my initial mindset that simplicity is best for this cocktail. I had set out to make a cup of Masala Chai in cocktail form, and any ingredients other than the traditional tea-milk-sugar combo were uncalled for.
gaz sez: Tyler has a lot to say, huh? I always find it intriguing when bartenders send in their thought processes, giving us a glimpse into what goes on in their heads when they are creating a drink, and Tyler’s able to do this very effectively. I’ve used chai before in a drink I featured in last year’s Annual Manual, and I think it’s a great way to add complexity to a drink. Tyler nailed this one, and he did that by keeping it simple.
This is one of 2012’s 101 Best New Cocktails.
Click HERE to submit your recipe for a chance to be included in next year’s list.
Click HERE to order 101 Best New Cocktails 2012
Click HERE to order the Annual Manual for Bartenders: 2012.
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