The Monkey Picker

August 13 2012 - 11:46 PM

There is a style of oolong tea that — as the story goes — was carefully picked by trained monkeys. The leaves of the wild tea were delicate, the trees were tall, and the monkeys were careful.

Now this story is probably about a true as St. Germain’s shtick involving waves of hobos on bicycles bringing elderflowers to the distillery once per year, but it’s at least picturesque and compelling. And it’s made me stop once or twice to savor my cup of tea a bit longer. So who can blame me, then, if I still had tea – and monkeys – on the brain come happy hour.

Using a quick-infused green tea vodka, I built a sour with brown sugar simple syrup. But as much as I liked the darker caramel flavor it imparted, the drink seemed too heavy. What was missing?

The drink languished for months, abandoned and incomplete, until I realized one day what could bring the drink together. I whipped up another round, but this time added a little Yellow Chartreuse. The medicinal and sweet liqueur has an herbal complexity that plays well with tea, but it also provided the brightness that the drink needed.

Now, instead of dark and moody, the drink is light and playful, capable of climbing the tallest trees and bringing back the choicest leaves.

The Monkey Picker

The Monkey Picker

  • 2 oz green tea-infused vodka
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz brown sugar simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • Egg white

Carefully crack an egg over your shaker tin, keeping only the white and discarding the yolk. (Do this step first so that if you get shells or yolk in the glass, you don’t ruin the more expensive booze.) Add the remaining ingredients and shake hard without ice to emulsify the egg white and incorporate all the parts. Add ice and shake again, straining into a chilled cocktail glass.

If you’re feeling fancy, add a few drops of Angostura bitters over your completed drink and style with a toothpick.

Green Tea-Infused Vodka

  • 4 oz vodka
  • 1 teabag of green tea

Alcohol is excellent at drawing flavors out of whatever it comes in contact with, so you can steep a teabag in a glass of vodka as easily as in a cup of boiling water. Just place your teabag in the booze and come back 5 minutes later (or whenever it’s as strong as you like). If your tea is fine and you’ve got bits of leaves floating in your infusion, you may want to run it through a coffee filter before using. Or take the opportunity to forecast the future.

–David McCowan