I love tea, deeply and truly. That love has been ingrained in me since childhood by my family as tea is a staple in Ukrainian culture. Hosting and tea are practically synonymous (with plenty of snacks and sweets covering the table, of course). Growing up, I explored grassy Japanese greens, floral Chinese oolongs, invigorating British blacks and spicy Indian chais. I've spent countless hours connecting with friends in cozy tea rooms around the world, curling up with a comforting cup to brave the Midwestern winters and cooling off with iced tea on a sunny day.
You get the point - I think tea is kind of a BIG deal.
Of course this means that tea serves a crucial role in my mixology toolbox. Tea can add so much depth and complexity without loading up your drink with sugar or watering it down. Thus far, I've used it to both infuse liquors and mix with in cold brew form - I've never been disappointed with either approach. This particular cocktail incorporates my favorite tea for fall: chai. I stumbled upon a particularly attractive container of black mission figs at the store and chai came to mind as the perfect spiced flavor pairing.
I chose make the figs into a syrup rather than muddling them to extract the most flavor possible. Muddling is ideal for herbs or fruit that holds a lot of juice but not quite as effective for fleshier fruit like figs. As with any fruit syrup, figs simply need to be boiled with water and sugar until they start to fall apart (roughly 30 minutes). The mixture should then be strained through a fine mesh strainer (a spoon can be used to press the liquid through).
I rounded off the fig and spice flavors with an exciting small batch bourbon I hadn't previously tried and some lemon to keep the drink on the sour side. The outcome was hands down the best whiskey sour I've ever tried - all of the flavors mingled together fabulously and really helped each other shine. One key thing to note is that this is an excellent drink to make in bulk because only the syrup is labor intensive. I would highly recommend scaling it up for your fall entertaining needs!
Chai Fig Sour
- 2 oz bourbon
- 2 oz cold brew chai tea (I used Tazo)
- 1 oz fig syrup (1 quart black mission figs : 2 cups water : 1/2 cup brown sugar)*
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Alternatively, if making in bulk, stir in a pitcher with ice until chilled, then pour into rocks glasses. Garnish with fresh fig slices and enjoy while wrapped in your favorite fall sweater.
*To create syrup, heat all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, or until figs start to disintegrate at the touch of a spoon. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and allow to cool. Store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.