In Good Spirits

Kentucky Iced Tea

By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Jim Beam Distillers

Summertime and the living is easy… and it’s time for ice tea with a kick!

Summertime and thoughts turn to sweet iced tea. It is the South, after all.
Another Southern drink that’s heavenly over ice when temperatures rise is bourbon, and when the two meet for a date, it’s a delicious marriage. And it’s so easy to create.
Most bourbon iced tea cocktails contain three to four ingredients: brewed black tea that’s sweetened and chilled, simple syrup and bourbon with mint, lemon or other flavors as garnish. Some mixologists add other liquors such as limoncello for added flavor.
Bryan Price, mixologist at the Grand Hotel in Natchez, starts with the tea, emphasizing that brewing his own sweet tea makes all the difference.
“When it comes to making a bourbon tea, it’s all about the tea and it’s all about the bourbon,” Price said. “When you mix it with bourbon you can’t go wrong. Here in the South everyone loves bourbon. It’s as Southern as you can get.”
Geoffrey Zakarian of the Food Network uses fresh orange juice and a clover honey syrup for his orange bourbon iced tea and the network’s popular Chef Bobby Flay prefers blackberries for his blackberry-bourbon iced tea, pouring brewed tea over mashed blackberries, sugar and mint which meld together for an hour before being used in the cocktail.
What you choose as the tea makes a difference as well. Flavored teas, such as Orange Pekoe and Celestial Seasonings Peach, send the drink in certain flavor directions. Add some lemonade to the mix and you’ve got a bourbon Arnold Palmer.
The Mirror Room at the historic Hotel Bentley in Alexandria, Louisiana, prefers peach but uses Peach Schnapps in its Peach Tea, along with Maker’s Mark bourbon, tea, lemon juice and mint.
Here are recipes for the cocktail by two old-time Kentucky bourbon distilleries. Jim Beam of Clermont utilitizes the flavors of peach schnapps liqueur for its Kentucky Sweet Tea. Woodford Reserve of Versailles (that’s Kentucky, not France, although they pronounce it Ver-sales) offers its take on the Arnold Palmer.

Kentucky Sweet Tea
1 part DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps Liqueur
2 parts Jim Beam bourbon
3 parts sweet tea
Lemon wedge

Direction: Build over ice in a tall highball glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
Note: It’s preferable to create the tea the Southern way by dissolving sugar in boiling water, then adding the tea bags once the sugar is dissolved. The amount of sugar you add depends on the preferred sweetness.

Woodford Reserve Palmer
1 1/2 ounces Woodford Reserve
Iced Tea
Lemon wedge

Direction: Fill a tall glass with ice. Add all ingredients and stir well. Garnish with the lemon wedge.

Read More in DeSoto Magazine online.