Much as I adore me a bloody mary, summer of 2011 in Austin brought a revelation – sweet tea vodka. There are several incarnations of this nectar on the market, including Deep Eddy, which is a delicious local creation and made by actual brewing, rather than fake flavouring. It’s literally sweetened vodka infused with iced tea flavour, needing only the addition of water to make it a complete beverage, though it’s usually served with lemonade.
A non-alcoholic tea and lemonade mix is known as an Arnold Palmer (like the golfer), so naturally the liquored up version is fondly known as a John Daly (like the alcoholic golfer – get it?). I need to also throw in a cultural reference here and point out that lemonade in Australia is Sprite or 7up. Lemonade in the US is old-fashioned non carbonated lemon juice, sugar and water mix.
I digress. The issue is, after developing quite a fondness for this beverage, I was sad to discover it was yet another item which isn’t available in Australia. I made inquiries though well-connected bar friends and importers but to no avail, it seemed sweet tea vodka was just something I wasn’t going to have in Melbourne.
So of course, like most times I get told “no” or “you can’t”, I went ahead and did it myself. I procured some cold-brew tea bags specially designed for iced tea brewing, poured half a bottle of vodka into a jar, and added three of the tea bags. Though I haven’t tried, I suspect regular tea bags would actually work, you’d likely just need to use more (as they’re smaller) and let them infuse for longer.
It only took around 15-20 minutes to infuse (since this is what the bags are designed to do) and the vodka had turned a deep, dark amber shade. I removed the discarded the bags, and sealed up the jar. Really couldn’t have been simpler.
And to turn it into a fabulous cocktail, do the following:
Make up a batch of simple syrup on the stovetop. It’s basically sugar syrup, and it’s one part water to one part white sugar. Just heat in a saucepan until dissolved, the allow to cool before use. It can be stored for several weeks in the fridge.
Pick or purchase yourself some fresh lemons, and get to squeezin! If you absolutely must, you can use the pre-bottled lemon squeezes but the flavour is inferior and you will be able to taste it.
Fill yourself a mason jar (or boring old glass) with ice, and pour in a (minimum) three count of the sweet tea vodka. Add in a generous squeeze of syrup, and a good splash of lemon juice, then top up with water. Adjust the syrup and juice to taste. Stir well before imbibing.
This one comes with a bit of a warning – these are very very easy to drink, and you can hardly taste the alcohol. Proceed with caution, but enjoy. Cheers y’all!
*NB: I know I recently ranted about infused vodkas, but that was specifically about their inclusion in Bloody Marys. Can’t catch me out yet!