Day 5: Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned

We have a problem. I don’t think it’s insurmountable, just troubling. This morning I looked over the list of cocktails yet to be prepared and I found myself reconsidering a number of them. Uhoh. There may be a little bit of “back to the drawing board” going on. I think perhaps in my quest to be creative I’ve overreached into territory that may not be as tasty as initially expected. Or maybe they’re too fussy. Or maybe I’ve had a tough week at work and have already been consistently drinking each evening so am wondering how I’ll make it through a weekend of cocktails. It’s only drink five, friends, and I’m fading a bit.

I will do my best to rally.

Number five was mixed and consumed last weekend. Saturday. We had adopted the 7.5 foot Christmas tree, planted it in the living room and I had put the lights on. I must admit that one of my favorite parts of the holiday is sitting in the living room with the husband, tree lights sparkling, light fading to black, sipping drinks and talking. This little annual cocktail expedition gives us ample opportunity to indulge in such behavior.

Last Saturday the husband smacked his lips and said, “Mmmmmm….hot toddy sounds good.” It did sound good, though it wasn’t really what I had planned that day. I looked at him and said, “Would you rather have a Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned or a Ginger Maple Hot Toddy.” It was all over once the words “Old Fashioned” escaped my lips. Good thing as I had made the syrup for it the day before.

Not too shabby with just lights.

That is one thing I’ve noticed about many of these cocktails; they take a bit of planning. Most involve more than just grabbing a cocktail shaker and splashing booze around. Maybe that’s part of my drag: too complicated. Though I do have a simple cranberry gimlet and a cranberry orange martini on my list. Both are a bit exclusive though as the husband despises gin. I believe I’ve mentioned that before. Despises. Such a harsh word…particularly when used in the same sentence as gin.

Back to Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned. Making the syrup for this is a delight. A rich chai scent will linger in your kitchen. It may be worth making just for that.

I was a little surprised by the addition of sparkling water to the drink, an uncommon ingredient in old fashioned. But, it worked. The husband and I agreed it was tasty. Worth a second, but not worth knocking someone down over. You know what I mean. So, sure, you should try it. In front of your Christmas tree. With someone you love.

Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned (recipe barely adapted from Half Baked Harvest)

Chai syrup:
4 chai tea bags
1/3 c real maple syrup (glad I picked up two containers when we were on Vancouver island in September)
1/2 tsp vanilla (also the real stuff…picked up in Mexico in April)

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add tea bags, remove from heat, cover and allow it to steep for 15 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, remove the tea bags, put the pot of steeped liquid back on the stove and add the maple syrup.  Bring to a boil and let it roll for 3-5 minutes (this is when that wonderful smell will waft around your kitchen).  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool, then add vanilla.

The drink:
For two cocktails mix:
1/2 cup bourbon or whiskey
1 oz lemon juice (I cheated and used the stuff out of the bottle)
4-8 tblsp chai syrup (I’d start with five, taste, add more as you see fit)
Sparkling water

Put the whiskey, lemon juice and chai syrup in a cocktail shaker and give it a few good shakes.  Pour over ice, top with sparkling water (not too much…don’t want to ruin a good thing).  Enjoy!

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