november 2, 2018
A well-crafted cocktail (or mocktail) is a refreshing start to dinner. You can’t go wrong by following the seasons and employing ingredients that speak to whatever nature is serving up, so local apple cider is the star of this fall beverage.
Apple cider is sweet —that syrupy vibe is tempered here by the tartness of fresh lemon juice and a double whammy smokiness from reposado tequila and homemade tea concentrate made with lapsang souchong leaves. Triple the smokiness with applewood smoked sea salt on the glass rim. The tea concentrate keeps for weeks in the fridge and can be dashed into all manner of beverages both still and fizzy to lend a dark earth accent. These days loose tea leaves may be found in specialty stores and Asian markets; avoid supermarket tea bags filled with lapsang tea since the effect will be muted.
Local apple cider from Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse shows up at my favorite roadside stand each autumn. It makes butternut squash soup shine, tickles the tongue in a spicy sorbet and has graced another cocktail published here. Lapsang souchong tea has also made its appearance with a uniquely flavored and easy eggless ice cream.
A couple of ingredient storage hints :
- apple cider begins to ferment once the container opens, so I portion it into containers that will freeze, and defrost for use
- lapsang souchong tea concentrate is a good fridge keeper; no need to freeze
- freshly squeezed lemon juice will keep well in the fridge for a couple of weeks and in the freezer for months; when you have a few wrinkly lemons in the fridge, juice them and then use the squeezed rinds to freshen the garbage disposal, or rub them onto your face for a free acidic toner, which skin loves!
- to use lemon shells for moistening rim of the cocktail glass, use them while fresh after you squeeze the juice, or freeze them for later use
If your choice is to enjoy a mocktail with today’s ingredients, omit the tequila and substitute plain or citrus flavored seltzer.
Raise a glass to the change in seasons!
Smoky Tequila Cider Cocktail
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
2 generous teaspoons loose lapsang souchong tea leaves (not from tea bags)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
fresh apple cider
freshly squeezed lemon juice
aged tequila, 100% agave (reposado or anejo) – I like Lunazul
applewood smoked sea salt
shell of one squeezed lemon half
optional garnish : thin slices of lemon
- For tea mixture, add the tea leaves to the cup of water which has just come to the boil, add the sugar, stir, and let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes (longer, up to 10 minutes, for a potent concentrate).
- Chill until ready to use; tea concentrate keeps well in the fridge for weeks.
- Before making your cocktail, have all ingredients well chilled.
- Place a thin layer of applewood smoked salt on a flat saucer; coat the glass rim with lemon juice from the shell and dip the upturned rim onto the saucer; rearrange the salt into a single layer for the next glass.
to make one cocktail : in a clean jar or shaker, combine 2 ½ ounces tequila, 2 ounces apple cider, 1 tablespoon tea concentrate and 1 tablespoon lemon juice with ice cubes—shake well, strain out ice cubes and pour into prepared glass; garnish if desired with thin slice of lemon