Back in 2009, bartender Audrey Saunders introduced her tea-infused cocktails to Los Angeles at Tar Pit on La Brea Avenue, where she partnered with Mark Peel (Campanile) on an extensive drinks menu. Saunders is long gone from Tar Pit, but tea-infused cocktails are continuing to infiltrate the L.A. drink scene: Hemingway's Lounge's Chamomile Martini with tea-infused Junipero gin, Hatfield's Uncle Jerry's Log Cabin with Earl Grey-infused rye, and Hungry Cat's Sleepy Jean with chamomile-infused reposado, to name a few.
But at Seal Beach's 320 Main, owner/bartender Jason Schiffer used tea to put a unique twist on a classic cocktail. The Martinez, said to be created by cocktail pioneer Professor Jerry Thomas and the father of the martini cocktail, is a drink Schiffer "always thought could use a bit more oomph." After about six months of experimenting, he finally put his Earl Grey Martinez on the menu. The result is a flavorful and complex cocktail.
If you feel Seal Beach is too far to go for a cocktail no matter how good it is, here's the recipe for you to try at home. The trick about this drink, as Schiffer says, "is not to be afraid of dilution, stir the bejeezus out of it."
How to make Earl Grey gin: Steep 4 tablespoons of loose-leaf Earl Grey tea in 1 liter of Beefeater Gin for an hour. Then cut that with a half liter of regular Beefeater to make the infused gin less tannic. Why Beefeater? According to Schiffer, "Beefeater is tight and focused and the Earl Grey tea lends itself well to Beefeater in this sense."
Earl Grey Martinez
From: Jason Schiffer of 320 Main
Makes: 1 drink
1.5 ounces Earl Grey Beefeater
1.5 ounces Carpano Antica
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2 teaspoons Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 dash of Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
1. Stir thoroughly.
2. Garnish with an orange peel.