World Tea Expo Contest Picks Next "It" Cocktail -- Gin and Juice and ... Tea? Plus Secret Poultry Ingredient -- Putting the Cock in Cocktail

The Genevrier Verte, the winning tea cocktail
The Genevrier Verte, the winning tea cocktail

Here's a tea drink you might be seeing soon at your local fancy bar: the Genevrier Verte. Ordinarily, people would tend to make fun of you if you ordered tea at a bar -- unless it's a Long Island iced tea you're thirsty for. But fear no longer: Tea and alcoholic madness do go hand in hand.

At 3 p.m. this past Sunday, the competition for the best tea cocktail took place at the World Tea Expo. There were more than 50 entries, and some 20,000 votes were cast online to narrow the field to Sunday's 15 finalists. A couple of food and drink magazine editors, along with Michael "Sushi Mike" Cardenas judged the event. (He's the guy who owns Sushi Roku, BOA Steakhouse, Katana and Robata Bar.)

The Genevrier Verte is a frothy drink made with China Mist's "Pure Blackberry Jasmine iced Green Tea with Lemonade," gin, lime juice, vanilla-and-clove-infused simple syrup, a cucumber-wheel garnish, mint and an egg white. Yes. An egg white. That's how it gets its froth. It's a classic bartender's trick.

Genevrier Verte beat out other tea-alcohol concoctions, including the dark, voluptuous "Chocolate MarTEAni" by the Hale Tea Company; the "Iron Buddha and the Flower" by Barnes & Watson teas (Ti-Kuan-Yin tea, part of the oolong family, chrysanthemum concentrate, maraschino liquor, lemon and yuzu). The fizzy, deceptively simple "Sencha n' Tonic" (beware the ever-lethal Korean soju!). And the "Eight Treasures" made by the out-of-control Chinese girl. I say out of control because who brings eight ingredients to a two-minute bar drink mixing contest? One of which is ice cream. Another of which is raisins.

If there has to be a Miss Congeniality of the bunch, I'd say that honor goes to the elegantly cerebral "St. Jasmine" by The Art of Tea. It is made with jasmine pearls, elderflower liqueur and pure ambition. The guy who mixed that one demonstrated a steely kind of samurai calm. While others were blenderizing and stirring and shaking frenetically, he took the entire first minute to fill a champagne goblet with ice, swirl it, and wait until chilly condensation gathered on the outside of the glass. Intentionally letting the clock run out like that? Talk about showmanship.

But he did not win. Instead Max Solano of Emeril's Table 10 restaurant took home the gold.

"The winner is the only one using poultry product in his cocktail," said the emcee, who just kept getting funnier as he got drunker. "Well, maybe it's also in the Eight Treasures. You never know."


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