MARCH 2017 – Tea time. Doesn’t even just saying that bring out notions of fancy folks sitting around in beautifully idyllic settings while sipping hot afternoon blends of Earl Gray and eating finger sandwiches and petite pastries? We love tea time and this month it takes on a whole new meaning. Cindy’s Spirit Guide, Nandini Khaund loves using tea in her drinks, both alcoholic and spirit-free. She works with local Chicago tea guru, Rodrick Markus of Rare Tea Cellar, to procure interesting teas from around the world (for what it’s worth, Markus has become the go-to for obscure ingredients for chefs and bartenders around the country; he’s definitely the guy to know!).
Khaund and her bar team use tea to provide a botanical element to many drinks. They infuse tea into spirits, brew it for cocktails and also create syrups to use in a variety of ways. They’ll use a beautiful matcha from Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture, which is obtained during “first flush” when the burgeoning spring buds of the green tea plant provide the most flavor. Look for the matcha in Cindy’s Matcha Latte. Add Tanqueray Old Tom Gin and Lazzaroni Amaretto for extra flavor — and kick! One of the most popular drinks — the Grey Garden — uses Emperor’s Jasmine Pearls, which comprises night-blooming jasmine bound with green tea. This tea offers lush aromatics and an elegant floral complexity to the drink. Khaund will also infuse rooibos tea with rose hips, lavender and elderberries into vodka for the Western Cape. This allows more flavor to permeate the drink while also adding lovely antioxidants. “We like a dose of health in our alcohol!” Khaund said whimsically.