Tea’s subtlety and ceremony has been appreciated for centuries, and though it was never employed in distillates to the extent that herbs and spices have been used in creating a myriad of unique liquors and bitters, it was definitely one of the five core ingredients found in punch, well before cocktails were ever conceived. Chinese cuisine has also employed tea as a seasoning for centuries, and at Brooklyn’s King’s County Imperial, in addition to dining on Jasmine Tea–Smoked Mu Shu Duck, a gunpowder green tea–infused whiskey sour may also suit your fancy.
Beverage director Richard Murphy and barman Garrett Bonasorte knew they wanted to add a whiskey sour to the menu, and in reaching for a bottle of Bulleit Rye off the back bar, the idea of using a gunpowder tea came to mind. Infusing the tea into the whiskey, the combo worked, with Murphy adding a bit of locally sourced orgeat (almond syrup) to balance out the tea’s strong flavors, in addition to the drying foam of egg white. Because the cocktail is built for speed, the team at King’s Country actually batches the concoction and pours it from a keg, adding the egg white after it comes out of the tap and then giving it a final shake.
Gunpowder tea is distinctive in that it is rolled into dried pellets, allowing the leaves to be impervious to damage and retain their flavor; it unravels once steeped. The smaller and tighter the pellets, the higher the quality of tea, it is thought. Robust and smoky in flavor, teas like this are ideal for not getting lost when paired with a spirit or cocktail. Brooklyn bar Dutch Kills’ use of a smoky Lapsang Souchong tea syrup is a prime example. As the saying goes, there is always time for tea, even during cocktail hour, apparently.

The Powder Keg
Serving: 1 cocktail
2 oz Gunpowder Green Tea–Infused Bulleit Rye
0.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Honey Syrup
1/4 oz Orgeat
Egg White
1) Pour liquid ingredients in one shaker tin and egg white in the other.
2) Combine tins and dry shake (without ice) briskly for several seconds to create an egg white emulsion.
3) Add ice to the tins and shake again for 10 seconds. Double strain into chilled cocktail coupe glass.
4) Garnish with a lemon wheel and small pinch of green tea on lemon wheel.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate