mint and cocktail beginnings

I woke up rather late this morning.  And, by “rather late,” I mean 11:30AM.  Yes, that’s right.  There is a justifiable reason to waking up that late, and a contributing factor does include poking around on Pinterest until well after 3:00AM.  I kept company with a bottle of Frog’s Leap Chardonnay, and we settled down after delightfully agreeing upon the construct of the perfect spring lavender cocktail.  I think that I even made a few new friends along the way!

Orange mint-lemon sweet tea.

Waking up late can be a decadent treat, but most times, it renders me crestfallen.  I feel that my day has been robbed from me, and I feel a sting of guilt that I have squandered its most beautiful hours.  It is a careful balance, when you attain the satiety of enjoying the correct amount of sleep-hours and the bonus points of waking up early.  I did not meet that balance today.  Not anywhere close.  As I meandered to the kitchen and reached for a familiar pitcher, I realized that I must have consumed the last of my homemade sweet tea the night before.  Too tired to brew some, and too foggy to remember exactly how it dwindled so quickly, I waited until “someone else” made it for me.  It is always interesting to see how someone makes sweet tea happen.  Too lemony…too herbaceous…too sweet…  Everyone seems to have a “perfect recipe” for themselves.  My recipe tends to evolve around what I have available in my kitchen or garden at the time.

Orange mint unabashedly growing on my back porch.

Lately, I have perfected a recipe that utilizes the abundance of orange mint in my garden right now.  Orange mint, like most mint varieties, proliferates profusely in most environments.  Its leaves have a very fragrant, citrus aroma, and are high in vitamins A and C.  This herb is also wonderful in mint sauces, jelly, vinegar, salads, and desserts.

Orange Mint-Lemon Sweet Tea:

  • 3 bunches orange mint
  • 5 packets of organic black tea
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sugar

Boil about three cups of water on the stove.  Once the water reaches a roiling boil, add five packets of organic black tea.  Remove from the stove.  Allow to steep according to producer’s directions (about 4-7 minutes).  While tea solution is hot, add sugar (to taste) and stir until incorporated.  Toss in lemon and mint.  Add water until volume increases to 1 Liter.  You can always add more water to dilute, if it is too strong.  This is where your creativity and personal taste comes to play!  I let the mint and lemon steep for about an hour, and then I remove the lemon.  Lemon tends to overwhelm the other components; I feel fine leaving the orange mint.  (By the way, you can substitute any type of mint in this “recipe.”)

As soon as I got my “tea fix,” I was ready to make some infused vodkas for an upcoming brunch service.  Here’s the infusion line-up…more on how this became the amazing base for a delicious Bloody Mary cocktail…tomorrow…

Ball pickling jars, filled with vodka, bacon, and yard jalapeno peppers.

Jayme Henderson

Occupationally speaking, I am a sommelier and mixologist at a busy, upscale Denver restaurant. I am lucky enough to spend most days tasting, pairing, and creating, alongside my cherished guests. I am also a contributor at the Kitchn, where I write about wine and gardening, tour cooks' kitchens, and interview innovative growers and makers. When I am not wearing those shoes, you can find me in my garden, preserving, painting, designing, and documenting my experiences along the way. I'm currently learning calligraphy and trying my best at home brewing. And I am seriously obsessed with my cats. And rosé.

April 27, 2012

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