• January 5, 2018

Cocktail of the Week: House Bill 819

Alexis Jesup

During the Georgia General Assembly’s 2003-2004 session, six legislators co-sponsored House Bill 819 with the purpose “to provide that food service establishments which serve iced tea shall serve sweet tea.” Of course, you can’t really make drinking sweet tea the law, even in Georgia: It was a bureaucratic April Fool’s joke.

But the spirit of the bill lives on at Sweet Cheeks Q, where it’s the namesake for a whiskey cocktail laced with sweet tea. The drink’s foundation, an 86-proof corn whiskey made by Berkshire Mountain Distillers, is (somewhat) tamed via a steeping with black tea and an infusion of tea simple syrup.

House Bill 819 also includes a mint-lemon simple syrup and comes with a top-and-bottom garnishing of mint leaves and lemon. It sounds sweet—and it is—but the earthy character of the corn whiskey still punches through, making it just as interesting as it is refreshing.

It’s also the beneficiary of an ice-free dry shake, which adds to its texture and flavor.

“It gets a good frothiness at the top,” says head bartender Brad Cantlin. “That will bring out the citrus and express it more.”

House Bill 819
3 ounces tea-infused whiskey*
½ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce mint-lemon simple syrup**
Lemon wheels and mint sprigs, for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake. Double-strain into a mason jar that has been garnished by a lemon wheel and mint sprigs at the bottom and filled with crushed ice. Once the drink has been poured, garnish the top with an additional lemon wheel and mint springs.

*Tea-infused whiskey
1 bottle Berkshire Mountain Distillers New England Corn Whiskey
2 bags Lipton black tea
8 ounces tea simple syrup***

Let tea bags sit in whiskey for two days. Remove tea bags, strain, and re-bottle, adding tea simple syrup. Keeps for about one month.

**Mint-lemon simple syrup (yields about 1½ quarts)
1 quart sugar
1 quart water
2½ lemons
½ pound mint, torn

Peel and juice lemons. Add lemon juice and skins to a saucepan with other ingredients. Bring mixture to a simmer and allow to sit for five minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a sealed container. Keeps up to two weeks, refrigerated.

***Tea simple syrup (yields about 1½ cups)
1 bag Lipton Black Tea
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Add ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes. Remove tea bag and strain into a sealed container. Keeps up to two weeks, refrigerated.

Brian Samuels

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