Gin time and tea time are both entrenched British traditions, and the pair makes quite a heady cocktail. The British colonized much of Asia, and in the process, they brought over their traditions, including a proper English tea. This cocktail picks up both citrus and smoky notes from Lapsang Souchong, a black tea that originates from the Chinese province of Fujian and is made of Lapsang leaves that have been smoked over a pinewood fire.
Gin, of course, has a lurid history as the bathtub spirit of choice during Prohibition, when the homemade brew was clandestinely served in teapots as part of the afternoon ritual. For parties, I like to mull a big batch of this "tea" with Asian-forward herbs like star anise, black peppercorns, and makrut lime leaves. As a wink to tradition, I pour the cocktail from a teapot into teacups.
Afternoon Gin Tea
2 tablespoons honey
4 ounces (1/2 cup) Bombay Sapphire East gin
Fill a small square of cheesecloth with the star anise, makrut lime leaf, and peppercorns; tie it closed with twine. In a teapot, combine the spice bag, hot Lapsang Souchong tea, ginger, and honey. Add the gin and stir. Serve immediately in teacups.
Reprinted with permission from Lucky Rice by Danielle Chang, copyright (c) 2016. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.