Bourbon and iced tea are a classic pairing, and all you really need to do to create something refreshing, boozy and delicious is to pour a measure of bourbon into a glass of sweetened ice tea, like with the appropriately named Bourbon Sweet Tea. That’s all well and good, but part of the joy of cocktails is the creativity involved, and sometimes making a deeply complex drink can be a lot of fun. That’s the case with bartender Ryan Puckett’s invention, the Old Oscar Tea. This summer quencher is deeply complex thanks to a roasted barley ginger tea, sorghum syrup and a few other choice ingredients not normally seen in a boozy iced tea.
The first part of the job is to make the tea itself, and while the barley is infusing, you’ll want to make the sorghum syrup, which goes into both the barley water and the finished drink. Once you have those, it’s only a matter of mixing them with bourbon, as well as fino sherry and yellow Chartreuse. The sherry enhances the nuttiness of the tea and whiskey, while the Chartreuse adds a deep botanical layer and a touch of sweetness. That sweetness is further amplified by the sorghum syrup. A few dashes of Bittercube Jamaican bitters rounds out the drink.
Puckett originally used Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon for his invention. It’s a well-regarded, high quality bourbon, but another can stand in its stead if need be. Still, you’ll want to stick to something similarly bold and dark to stand up to the other ingredients in this unusual drink.
- 1 1/2 ounces Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon
- 3/4 ounce fino sherry
- 1/2 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 1 1/2 ounces roasted barley ginger tea*
- 1/2 ounce sorghum syrup**
- 3 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #1 bitters
- Garnish: Small bunch of mint, bound by a channel of lemon
Add the bourbon, fino sherry, yellow Chartreuse, roasted barley ginger tea, sorghum syrup and bitters to a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
For the garnish, cut a long channel out of an unwaxed lemon with a channel knife.
Wrap the channel around the base of a small bunch of mint, and tie into a simple knot. Garnish and serve.
*Roasted barley ginger tea: In a skillet, pour 2 cups of pearled barley over medium heat. Stir occasionally until all of the barley is toasted and aromatic. Once done, pour the barley into a pot with 6 cups of cold water, and place over heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, remove from heat, and allow to steep for approximately 20 minutes. Strain out and discard solids. Mix the liquid with 2 ounces of fresh ginger juice and 5 ounces of sorghum syrup**. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
**Sorghum syrup: Mix equal parts sorghum molasses and hot water. Shake until the sorghum has completely dissolved into the liquid. Allow to cool before using.