Aegean Tea (Sarma)
Q&A: Tiffani Faison
Sarma’s Aegean Tea began as a pun.
“The name came first,” says bar manager Hillary Neuman-Raitu. “One of my bartender’s girlfriends said, ‘You should call a drink Aegean Tea for the play on words.’”
It became more than clever word play when Bully Boy Distillers partnered with the restaurant to create a Sarma Gin based on flavors found in the restaurant’s food. The result is a floral gin with flavors of dried lime and cumin, and Neuman-Raitu began building cocktails around it. While you may not find Sarma Gin at your local liquor store, Neuman-Raitu says that the flavors found in Hendrick’s or Gin Mare make them fine alternatives.
The refreshing highball is rounded out by lemon juice, a black tea syrup, and Amaro Nonino, which takes the place of a more common component.
“Nonino works as a nice, slightly bittering agent that brings more botanicals to the forefront. It brings that bitterness of a tonic without being tonic,” says Neuman-Raitu.
The Aegean Tea drinks like a more complex, Mediterranean cousin of the Arnold Palmer. Those bright, thirst-quenching flavors of tea and lemon are front and center, but enhanced by a bevy of interesting botanical flavors—none of which keep it from disappearing alarmingly fast.
1½ ounces Hendrick’s or Mare Gin
¾ ounce black tea syrup*
¾ ounces lemon juice
½ ounce Amaro Nonino
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice, and top with soda. Garnish with lemon wheel and serve.
*Black Tea Syrup (yields 1 quart)
1 pint water
1 pint sugar
2 tablespoons black tea
Peel of 1 orange
Steep black tea, orange peels, and cloves in pint of hot water for five minutes. While water is still hot, strain with coffee filter or chinois and add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Seal in plastic container and refrigerate. Keeps about one month.