Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Dec 13, 2012

Whiskey Chai

I'm all about hot cocktails in the wintertime. It's the perfect way to warm up and unwind after coming in from the cold.  And yes, us Angelenos do get chilly!  It may only be in the 50's here, but our blood is thinner, so cut us a break.  During the holidays, my mom and I love to drink chai, but we've always just bought tea bags of it and never actually made it from scratch.  This recipe from Saveur for Bourbon Chai uses whole spices to make a slightly sweet and fragrant tea that's perfect for drinking on it's own.  I actually had all of these spices on hand because they're frequent ingredients for my cocktail bitters.  I highly recommend going the whole spice route and busting out your mortar and pestle.  You get a much richer flavor as opposed to using ground spices, and it makes the straining process much easier.  I used Tazo's Awake tea, which is a very simple black tea with no overpowering flavor notes.  Instead of bourbon, I opted for Redemption Rye Whiskey because it has a spicy finish that pairs nicely with the chai.  They also make a high-rye bourbon, which I have yet to try.  This recipe makes more than a pitcherful of tea, so it's perfect to serve at holiday parties.  I would recommend letting people add in their own spirit, so you have a boozy and non-boozy option for a warming drink.

Whiskey Chai - serves 8-10
  • 8 bags black tea, paper and strings removed (I used Tazo's Awake)
  • 8 green cardamom pods, crushed 
  • 8 whole allspice berries, crushed
  • 8 whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, chopped
  • 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 6 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave syrup
  • 1 cup rye whiskey (I used Redemption) or bourbon if adding in beforehand or 1 oz per serving
- In a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven, add the tea, spices, ginger, vanilla bean seeds and pod and hot water.
-Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Add the almond milk and honey/agave, whisking to combine.
- Return to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and allow it to steep for about 10-15 minutes.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or a cheesecloth (I put a big piece over my pitcher and fastened it with a rubberband).
- Press down on the solids or squeeze the cheesecloth to extract those spicy flavors.
- Add in the whiskey or bourbon and serve.  If you want to get fancy, top with whipped cream and sprinkle a little nutmeg or cinnamon on top.