When you think of revolutionary drinks, you might think of the first punch, made of alcohol, lemon, sugar, water and spice. You might think of the first cocktail, made of spirit, sugar, water and bitters. However, the beverage that actually sparked a revolution had spice and water, sometimes sugar, and was famously destroyed in a demonstration of civil disobedience that started with a righteous uprising and ended with the birth of a nation. That drink is tea.
I’m not suggesting that the tea itself was the sole reason our nation’s forefathers wrote what is probably the most famous break-up letter of all time. America’s severance from England came on the heels of numerous perceived insults that led to a feeling of being politically neglected. People generally felt that they were paying for consideration in a Parliament they had no hand in electing. The colonists successfully rejected the heavily-taxed tea in all colonies except Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, the Governor told his tea-merchant sons to stand their ground, and a standoff ensued. Thousands of people gathered to protest, and when it became clear that no detente would be reached, there was a show of civil disobedience. Frustrated, hundreds of men descended on Boston Harbor and dumped the tea, by then a symbol of England’s refusal to listen to her colony, into Massachusetts Bay. Tensions escalated and by the second half of 1776, it had become self-evident that there would be no mending of the relationship between the Colonies and England, and the Second Continental Congress drafted the Declaration of Independence.
America had to fight for its independence, and eventually became a nation in its own right, strong and proud. Every year we commemorate the Declaration on July 4, our Independence Day. John Adams wrote to his wife that the day should be marked with “…pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other.” Independence Day is marked with fireworks displays, and every year they grow more elaborate. Mortars lift off and explode in bursts and shapes, stars and hearts, delighting the child in us all. Fireworks shows are timed up with classical music and we, the people, are reminded again that we are one nation, indivisible, full of promise. This year, I suggest you return to your roots and mark the day with tea.
The drinks that follow all take their name from phrases in the Declaration of Independence. Each features tea, and because the day calls for fireworks, they all have bubbles (sparklers!)
The Consent of the Governed
This cocktail features gin, which could be England’s national spirit, and an ingredient named for another New World revolutionary, Bolivar.
2 oz. Tanqueray Ten Gin
1.5 oz. Yogi Ginger Lemon Tea, or other similar type
1 tbl. Honey
9 drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters, or other mulled-spice flavored blend
Combine all ingredients into a handheld carbonator, such as the isi Twist n’ Sparkle, and carbonate. Serve on the rocks in a Collins glass. Garnish with crystallized ginger, if desired..
A Candid World
This cocktail takes its name from the intended audience of the Declaration, and is a complex blend of savory, sweet and tart elements.
2 oz. Limoncello
1 tbl. Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte (to rinse the glass), or other artisinal absinthe
9 drops Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters, or other floral blend
1 oz. Stash Lavender Tulsi Tea
1 barspoon Fizzy, a chemical carbonator with a slight citrus flavor, crushed into powder
Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with the Absinthe. Combine the Limoncello, the St. Germain and the bitters with ice and shake vigorously for a slow count of ten. Strain into the prepared glass and add the tea and Fizzy. Stir gently and garnish with a fresh lavender sprig, if desired.
Our Sacred Honor
Made with America’s Spirit, bourbon, a simpler tea cocktail can hardly be found, but the complex flavors of the tea and bitters make this cocktail supremely memorable. The Bulleit Bourbon chosen here was a medalist in the 2012 NY International Spirits Competition, and while flavorful, is a still a great canvas to mix with other cocktail ingredients.
2 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
2 oz. Yogi Peach Detox Tea
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine the first three ingredients and shake vigorously for a slow count of ten, strain over fresh ice and top with Club Soda. Stir gently to combine.