My friends and I go to the Belmont stakes each year. It’s one of the best events of the summer and I look forward to it every year. For some reason, despite the fact that this is my 5th (I think? I lose track…) time at the stakes, I’m inexplicably stoked. I mean, there’s nothing not to like about a day-long boozy picnic with your best friends. Toss some horsies, some ridiculously large hats, and an atmosphere closely resembling New Orleans Jazz Fest* into the mix, and you have yourself a winner…even if your favorite horse doesn’t even show (see, here’s when I pretend that I follow horse racing. In reality, I choose my favorite horse on the day-of, based on his name).
For my crew, of course the menu planning is the biggest part of the day. We bring what I’ll just call fancy picnic food and most of us bring some kind of mixed beverage. When I think of horse races, I think of the south and I think of Kentucky. So when this cocktail popped up on Joy the Baker, it was done and dusted. A sweet tea and bourbon cocktail, with muddled orange and mint for freshness, was exactly what I was looking for.
I honestly don’t drink a lot of tea (coffee coffee coooffeeee), but when I do, I drink black tea, with milk and sugar, and the more traditional the better. Twinings is my brand of choice and Earl Grey is my tea. For this cocktail, though, I just felt like English Breakfast would work better since I feel like it has a less-distinct taste. It was delicious, but honestly, plain old Lipton would have probably been fabulous. This cocktail is going to be perfect for the races. Sweet and light, it’s not too boozy or cloying and so should lend itself well to—I’m gonna be honest here—all day drinking. The orange and mint lingering in the background adds interest and a summer freshness, and the floral honey fills your nose with that lagniappe** that honey brings to everything. I cannot wait for the races this year. See you there.
**A little something extra
Sweet Tea and Bourbon Cocktail
Adapted from Joy the Baker. Makes 2 regular or 1 very large cocktail.
This is just a template. Add more bourbon, add more orange, taste as you go and you’ll be fine.
1 c water
1 black tea bag
3 oz (2 shots) bourbon
3 orange slices
2 T honey
2 T lightly packed mint
- Boil the water, remove from heat and steep the tea bag according to the directions (probably 3-5 min). You want the tea to be pretty dark
- Chill the tea in the refrigerator until cold, or, if your in a hurry like I was, toss it in the freezer until cold
- Place the bourbon, oranges, honey and mint in a large bowl and muddle with the back of a spoon, crushing until everything is well mixed and fragrant
- Pour the bourbon mixture into the chilled tea. Mix and serve over ice
- You can strain it if you want to, but it’ll be prettier with the mint and oranges in there (ahem, don’t strain it )