Mata Hari was the stage name of a Dutch dancer who was accused of spying for Germany during World War One. She was subsequently caught and executed by the French in 1917. It’s a sad and sordid tale. But, on a happier note, Mata Hari is also a cocktail.
The intriguing drink was created by the barkeeps at Employees Only, the pioneering New York cocktail spot that has been serving its West Village neighborhood since 2004, and now holds outposts in Los Angeles, Miami and Singapore.
Composed of cognac, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and simple syrup, the cocktail seems plenty interesting as it stands. It’s floral, herbal and tart, hitting all the right notes to keep you coming back for more. But the vermouth, which is infused with chai tea, takes the drink in an especially unique direction.
The chai is joined by green cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and ginger and then cooked with sweet vermouth, creating a rich and flavorful infusion that complements the vermouth’s botanicals. Though it’s specifically meant to be used in this cocktail, don’t let that keep you from experimenting with the chai vermouth in other drinks. You’re making a whole batch, so you’ll have plenty to spare for your next round of Manhattans.
- 1 1/4 ounces cognac
- 1 ounce chai-infused sweet vermouth*
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce pomegranate juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: dried organic rosebuds
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with three dried organic rosebuds.
*Chai-infused sweet vermouth: Add 4 green cardamom pods, 4 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 half-inch piece of ginger to a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 tbsp chai or black tea and 2 cups Cinzano rosso vermouth. Bring to a low boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Add the remaining vermouth and strain the mixture through cheesecloth. Bottle and store at room temperature.