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08.07.10 by  

Chai-Infused Vermouth.

You bring the tea bags, these cocktails will bring the party.

If you’ve ever sipped vermouth and thought, “Wow, this just isn’t herbaceous enough for me,” you either have an accelerated internal flavor gauge or loads of time to kill. We’re in the latter camp. Our latest dabbling, chai vermouth, which turns out to pair beautifully with rye and a Sunday evening.

Get creative with your tea bags. Switch out chai for Earl Gray, chamomile ... whatever your inner mixologist desires.

The method behind the madness is simple: Steep a tea bag or two in the spirit to create a more exotic flavor profile. Your options are to seal the mixture for an hour or so or longer for a more intense hit of herbs, or muddle for a minute or so just prior to creating your cocktail for a touch of spice. Heads up, the longer you infuse the tea, the greater the risk of your concoction turning bitter — two weeks in a jar in your fridge, bad idea. When you nail the desired taste, mix the results into your drink of choice, anything dark, dangerous and rye-forward is a rule to live by, especially when cocktailing. We started with the classics … a riff on the Vieux Carré and the Brooklyn.

Chai-Infused Vermouth

Play with the types of chai’s you use or work with your tea blender to create something fresher, spicier and more exotic for your cocktail riffing.

  • 2 to 3 tea bags
  • 2 cups sweet vermouth
  1. Start with your favorite chai recipe or use a few store-bought brands or tea-boutique blends.
  2. Place chai tea bags in a seal-able jar and top with vermouth.
  3. Steep an hour to overnight for more intense flavor, any longer and your concoction turns bitter. Serve neat, on the rocks or slipped into your signature drink.
  1. Or, for just a quick hit of Indian spice, muddle a chai tea bag with sweet vermouth then let sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute before crafting your cocktail recipe.

You can muddle the tea bags in your shaker and strain before serving or leave in to let them steep a minute or two longer. At the very least it ups talk value, as far as garnishes go.

Chai Carré

A twisted take on the New Orleans classic Vieux Carré subs in chai-infused vermouth for sweet.

  • 1 part rye
  • 1 part cognac
  • 1 part chai-infused sweet vermouth (for a quick infusion, muddle tea bag and vermouth for 30 seconds to 1 minute in a shaker prior to adding the rest of your cocktail ingredients)
  • 1/3 part Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Citrus peel garnish
  1. Stir ingredients in mixing glass with ice.
  2. Strain into a lowball filled with fresh rocks. Garnish with a citrus peel.

Chai Brooklyn

We love all the cocktails inspired by New York’s boroughs, including the Brooklyn. We subbed in our spiced sweet vermouth in the Chai Canuck Brooklyn or you can go with the traditional recipe which calls for dry vermouth and rye.

  • 2 1/4 parts rye
  • 3/4 part chai-infused dry vermouth (for a quick infusion, muddle tea bag and vermouth for 30 seconds to 1 minute in a shaker prior to adding the rest of your cocktail ingredients)
  • 1/2 Luxardo Maraschino
  • 1/2 Amaro Montenegro
  • Orange peel garnish
  1. Stir ingredients in shaker with ice.
  2. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with orange peel.

Sip chai-infused vermouth straight up or subbed into your favorite cocktail.

Next up, using leftover chai vermouth to marinate steak