Remedy for: Thirst, and Promotes Well-being [Antioxidants in tea]
Mixologist: Jim Meehan of New York’s PDT
Boston Tea Party Punch
Which rum? Medicinal Mixology‘s white rum suggestions:
El Dorado 3 Year Cask-Aged White Rum is an award-winning white rum that smells of citrus and vanilla, and tastes much more complex than what we expected of a white rum. And it’s really affordable, so you can provide a delicious beverage for all your friends without making your wallet cry.
Banks Island Blend Rum is a combination of rums from the five most important rum-producing islands: Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, Java. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the melting pot known as America (and the Sons of Liberty’s rebellious protest in Boston) than drinking a blended rum that claims lineage to 5 nationalities.
Where’s the citrus? Ain’t this a punch? Bittermen’s Boston Bittahs is very citrusy, but also has a little dose of chamomile tea to enhance bitterness and aromatics. Sniffing these bitters reminds me of escaping the bright heat of a Southern day in a hidden New Orleans courtyard — seeking shelter under the shade of banana tree leaves, relaxing to the sounds of a moss-covered water fountain, feeling cleansed by refreshing aromas of citrus, and the musty, but pleasant, smell of fresh earth and moist grass.
Which green tea? Meehan uses Sencha because it’s a more subtle green tea with soft grassy flavors. It’s an approachable green tea for those who are usually turned off by the strong vegetal, herbal notes of most green tea varieties. And although the original recipe calls for Sencha, our pantry is stocked with Matcha instead. If you haven’t experienced Matcha before, it is a very fine powder that you whisk into water to result in a creamy, bright green tea with intense flavor; the ritualistic preparation is so meticulous that the Japanese Tea Ceremony is centered around carefully preparing a cup of Matcha. We cheated by using bags of Matcha instead of the classic loose-powder, but the powder would be even better for mixing a healthy punch if you don’t mind a little sediment in your cocktail. If you do use the powder, understand that Matcha is much more powerful than Sencha, and you’ll have to do a little more work– the punch will need to be stirred often to keep the powder from settling in the bottom of the bowl. That said, unless you’re an avid Matcha drinker, the powder will be unwelcome in your glass. Again, we avoided this annoyance by using tea bags to keep the powder from complicating things. You’re probably wondering why we would use Matcha given all the options for green tea, and the answer is simple: compared to other teas Matcha is the most nutrient-rich green tea we can find… oh, and it’s packed with caffeine too. That means you can get all jacked up on caffeine and antioxidants, and have a nice little buzz after enjoying a cup of seemingly innocent punch.
left: Sencha tea leaves; center: freshly grated nutmeg; right: Matcha tea powder
To create a more concentrated tea, use less water and more tea than you would if you were brewing a standard cup. The recipe calls for barely over 2 cups, so make sure the tea you brew is intensely flavored. To ensure the tea was powerful, we brought the water to a gentle simmer, added 4 tea bags to the hot water, removed the pot from heat, let it cool to room temp, and then refrigerated the pot (with water and tea bags) for several hours before mixing it into the punch. We brewed the tea in the morning and mixed the punch in the late afternoon, so a prolonged steeping process worked perfectly for us. Some people would call this an over-extraction, but our goal was to balance the heavy alcohol by creating stronger bitter tea flavors.
When it’s time to strain the tea, remove the tea bags, and then add the green tea to a pitcher or large bowl with the Rum, Dry Vermouth, St. Germain, and Bitters. Chill all the ingredients in a large bowl or pitcher in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the punch.
If you want to have a little more fun while mixing a medicinal cocktail, get creative with ice cubes. You can freeze green tea in ice cube trays to prevent the tea from becoming diluted with water from melted ice. Or slice oranges, lemons, and limes, and freeze those with water in ice cube trays. We mixed citrus pieces, green tea, and freshly grated nutmeg to create tasty ice cubes that included ingredients already present in the punch. Take a look around your kitchen and make some delicious ice cubes that add flavor to your drink instead of only diluting it. One key thing to remember when crafting a punch is that small ice cubes melt faster, so freeze your cubes in the giant Tovolo molds, or cupcake, muffin pans, or cake pans to keep your punch from turning into a watery mess. A frozen block will last a lot longer than cubes from standard trays, and for this reason I strongly discourage using standard cubes or bagged ice.
Ready to serve the punch? Garnish each serving with grated Nutmeg. Serves many, or not so many considering what circles you run in. Maybe your friends have tolerances that would make superheros take notice, but odds are that you’ll be able to get at least 15 servings out of this punch recipe. For God’s sake people– there are two whole bottles of liquor in this bowl.
Cheers to Jim for another delicious cocktail! And . . . cheers to you for drinking to good health!