With a name like Seamus, I felt obliged to come up with something to mark St. Patrick’s Day. Thus, in a moment of inspiration, I reached for the Crème de Menthe, Chartreuse and Midori, then got busy carving a clover out of a lime shell. The world was about to be introduced to the Leprechaun’s Abortion.
Don’t worry. . . I realize the world does not need another drink whose only distinguishing feature, besides tasting awful, is being green. Instead, I thought again along the lines of tea, specifically Twining’s Irish Breakfast Tea. Incidentally this tea comes in a green cardboard box that could be cut into fine clover leaf garnishes if required. I elected to leave this aspect of the product’s St. Patrick’s Day potential unrealized however, deciding instead to simply infuse Irish Breakfast Tea in Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. Why not?
Then I thought there was not much point infusing whiskey with tea alone, and Irish Breakfast Tea at that. Does an Irish breakfast not demand bacon? Thus into the infusion went some bacon. Wisdom intervened at this point, quietly whispering that I should leave the eggs aside until the infusion was finished. I obeyed.
So there I had my drink. It would be a whiskey sour, that quintessential morning potion of leisured Americans, made Irish for the day with hearty breakfast flavors of tea and bacon, and bolstered with a silken egg. It would be simultaneously Irish and American, a true immigrant success story. Some luck would be required to make it all work, but the Irish are rumored to be blessed in that department.
The above is not a joke. Tea infuses beautifully in gin, so why not in whiskey? Quite a few people have experimented with infusing vodka with bacon, and some have also tried Bourbon, so again why not Irish? Bacon and tea are a popular breakfast combination, and there is even such a thing as tea-smoked bacon, so why not combine them in a drink? Then consider the alternative – a mixture of crème de menthe, Midori and Chartreuse. The bacon breakfast cocktail idea is looking tempting, no? So mutter a Hail Mary and take the plunge. . .
1 ½ oz tea and bacon infused Jameson’s Irish whiskey*
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Shake long and hard over ice to froth up the egg. Strain into a cocktail glass. I like to double strain shaken egg drinks (i.e. strain through a sieve as well as with the cocktail strainer) to remove ice shards and possible strands of egg. I find ice shards do not sit well in shaken egg drinks.
The verdict? Not bad at all. The strength of the bacon taste will vary a lot depending on the bacon used, the quantity, the infusion time, etc. I found that the tea dominated, with the bacon occupying the background. The bacon was there as an aroma and some saltiness. This was more or less what I was aiming for, the sense of drinking a cup of tea at breakfast time. Irish Breakfast is quite a tannin heavy tea, being a blend with a high ratio of Assam, so this drink has a little bitterness.
I thought about using maple syrup rather than simple syrup but decided not to, at least initially, because I wanted to see how the flavors worked in isolation before complicating things further. Maple syrup would probably be a nice addition, though perhaps too dominant.
* Make the whiskey infusion as follows. The quantities are small because this was experimental. Put 1 tsp Twining’s Irish Breakfast Tea into 100 ml whiskey to infuse for two hours. After two hours, strain to remove the tea. Now place a rasher of lightly fried bacon in the tea-flavored whiskey (I used a mild and lean Danish bacon). Infuse for at least 24 hours before using. The bacon is slow to infuse compared to the tea. You could probably infuse for several days or longer. You will get some bacon fat on the top of the infusion. Since I used very lean bacon the amount of fat was minimal and I didn’t bother removing it. Small quantities should get either emulsified by the eggs or removed in the strainer. If you have large quantities of fat then simply lift them off the infusion with a spoon. Fat solidifies in the fridge so this is easily done.