“I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of”….I’ve had that old David Cassidy song replaying in my head now for like a month. I thought you should know. Cool story, bro.
It’s no secret around these here parts that I get joy-boners with anything remotely related to Japanese culture and their beautiful people. Not in a creepy otaku kind of way but more in a healthy-obsessive, “will probably steal something if given the chance”-kind of way. So it’s cool. In binge-watching Japanese bartenders make cocktails on youtube (or as I call it: “Raul’s Saturday night”), I came across the use of matcha in cocktails, which I’d never seen before and loved the color it injects into drinks; So I ran to my nearest Asian food market with a roll of quarters (my preferred method of payment) and realized that this shit is not cheap. But I did learn this: the brighter and prettier the tea powder looks, the better quality it’ll be (assuming it hasnt been chemically enhanced). This type of matcha tea is typically considered “ceremonial” quality and if you’re looking to add it to cocktails, its the way to go, albeit the more expensive option.
Matcha will not be for everyone. Lets just get that out there right now. It’s kind of thick and obviously has a prominent herbal flavor to it (well, I mean, its pulverized green tea leaves basically) that wont appeal to those that dont fancy tea so much but much like egg whites or powdered sugar, it gives the drink an interesting mouth feel. Kind of like when you share a drink with someone who has a little something on their lip that you couldnt figure out what it was until it was too late. Just. Like. That.
You dont need a fancy bamboo tea whisk for this but it just helps in breaking down the powder so you’re not chewing this shit like its boba tea, but it helps. Stirring it with a spoon works just fine, plus you’re gonna shake the crap out of it later AND double strain it so relax.
The final bit is lemon verbena, which is lovely and I want to carry it with me everywhere I go because I am all but certain that is highly addictive stuff. It gives the drink a bright citrus aroma that’s perhaps more inviting than mint and it blends the notes from the tea, the floral gin and acidity of the manzanilla sherry all together and right up in your face.
1.5 ounces of London dry gin (I used Berkshire Mountain’s Greylock gin here)
1 ounce manzanilla sherry
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 barspoon of quality matcha tea
lemon verbena for garnish
In a mixing bowl, pour the gin, sherry and matcha. Whisk/stir well to combine the 3 and dilute the tea powder. Pour the contents into a cocktail shaker, add the simple syrup, ice and shake the hell out of it. Double strain into a rocks glass that’s been rinsed with a bit of absinthe, adding some fresh ice (a big block of ice works best) and garnish with a sprig of lemon verbena.
NOTE: If you cant find any verbena, it’s cool, simply take a lemon swath and rub it on the sides after pressing some of the oils into the glass.