When it comes to entertaining a group there are two major contenders for the easiest and most satisfying large-scale libations: boozy bowls of punch and sweet-tart pitchers of iced tea and lemonade. With the LiberTea—made with black tea, lemonade, basil, bourbon and honey liqueur— there’s no need to choose between the two.
Essentially a boozy, botanical take on an Arnold Palmer, the LiberTea is similar to the Backyard Iced Tea or John Daly. Refreshing and intoxicating, it’s sure to be a hit for your next summer get-together, as the cocktail is intended for drinking near picnic tables, lawn chairs and porch swings. In addition to being as easy to make as a pitcher of ice tea with some booze thrown in, it’s also inherently flexible. Rather have a richer and more lush drink? Swap the bourbon out for some aged rum. Want one that’s even lighter and more refreshing? Substitute the brown liquor for a clear one, like vodka or even a blanco tequila. Tea, lemon, honey and basil are all easy to pair with almost any base spirit.
Similarly, while the recipe calls for basil leaves to be stirred into the drink, you can change that as well. Mint is an obvious herb to substitute, which will lead to a more Mint Julep-like drink, but there are some other herbs you can use, such as Thai basil, sage or tarragon. You can also swap out the black tea if you like. An herbal tea like rooibos would fill in nicely, while chamomile or peppermint would change the drink’s profile, but could create interesting flavor combinations. Keep in mind that the basil may not work with all kinds of herbal teas.
Honey liqueur—rather than sugar or plain honey—provides the sweetness for the LiberTea. Bärenjäger is a popular German honey liqueur, Jack Daniels makes an affordable whiskey-based honey liqueur and Celtic Honey is made from Irish whiskey, honey and spices. Whichever you pick, it will lead to a refreshing and enlivening summer drink.
- 4 black tea bags
- 4 cups lemonade
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 1/2 cups honey liqueur
- Garnish: lemon wheels
In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
Remove from heat and add the tea bags.
Steep for 8 minutes and then discard the bags.
Add the lemonade and add an additional 2 cups of water.
Transfer the mixture to a pitcher and chill.
Stir in the basil and crush with a spoon until fragrant.
Stir in the bourbon and honey liqueur.
Divide between 4 tall glasses filled with ice and garnish each glass with a lemon wheel.