It was the day of the farmer’s market where our local farmers and fresh distributers gather, sending off their organic goods into the hands of those whom welcome it. We began at a little local Laguna Beach shop called, Spice Merchants: a place where all of us chefs’, tea lovers and chocolate obsessives’ go to adventure.
Their spice collection is unbelievable with anything from blended butchers rub to every kind of salt known to mankind. As you walk in the distinct flavors invade your nose and you see the rows of spice jars lining the walls; you cannot help but to stop and smell the unique blends. You find your chocolate, flavored or not, on the opposite side with the olive oils and hot sauces, and as you make your way to the back you find yourself in a room surrounding you with honey and tea leaves.
A veteran to their spice collection I decided to embark on a new adventure with their tea selection. Choosing between the 3 that caught my eye, dried rose petals, hibiscus white tea and blueberry crush, may have been the most difficult decision all day; letting my senses decide, they chose the blueberry crush tea, so potent with it’s dried fruit and hibiscus sencha green tea blend.
Naturally, my mind thought, ‘What kind of drink can I come up with using this?’
I made my way to the farmers market hoping something would catch my eye and spark an idea.
Choosing the local, organic flavors have greatly improved my cocktail kitchen; when you choose organic, you can taste the difference, literally. The fruits, vegetables and herbs have a natural flavor whether they are suppose to be sweet, earthy, bitter or sour, each fragrant note is noticeably stronger and without a doubt more delicious.
Walking by the colorful booths, I noticed fresh organic mint at first. Living by the beach, mint is a staple in many drinks being that we think ‘refreshing’ when we see them- it’s not only for a mojito people!
Continuing on, the citrus looks fantastic, and being that it is citrus season I thought what better way to celebrate vitamin C than to buy it local and fresh at this out door market. Anything from blood oranges to lemons, kumquats and satsumas, the cooler months are the best time for these bright fruits!
I scooped up a bag of lemons, which I always keep in the house, and blood oranges for their beautiful color and flavorsome peel. To match my blueberry tea I grabbed a carton of blueberries to see if I could create a funky garnish to gawk at while sipping.
Making my way home to the ‘test kitchen’ I laid all of my ingredients out on the counter and tried to decide which spirit to use as my base. With the clouds in the sky and it being ‘scarf weather’ my mind went to bourbon. I went to the ‘library’ and grabbed my Templeton Rye- a good old prohibition rye that happens to be one of my favorites to use when mixing cocktails.
I steeped my loose tealeaves in a pot on the stove, combining ½ a cup of fresh blueberries to add a little color and more blueberry fragrance to my water.
While letting my mixture completely cool and steep on the stove, I began to prep my other ingredients.
Wanting the blueberry crush tea to be the star of the show, I started to fresh squeeze and double strain (with a mesh strainer) my lemons in one mason jar and the blood oranges in another.
I got down my raw, local, organic California Wildflower honey and began picking my mint leaves for the good ol’ ‘ball and slap’ technique.
When the tea was cooled I strained and pressed it through a mesh strainer (you can use a coffee filter as well) into a mason jar and the result was a beautiful dark fuchsia color with a powerful aroma- perfect to flavor this cocktail.
The Blueberry Crush Martini
Setting up my Boston shaker I began to combine my ingredients:
About 10 Mint Leaves
– Form into a small ball in the palm of your hand and ‘slap’ the herbs
– Drop into small part of your Boston shaker tin
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Blood Orange Juice
1 oz Blueberry Crush Tea Mixture
1 large bar spoon of Honey
2 oz Templeton Rye
3 dashes of Fee Foam by Fee Brothers*
Add Ice to shaker and shake your signature shake.
Strain into your chilled martini glass and top with a few dashes of ground ginger and your garnish.
*Fee Foam by Fee Brothers can be found on Amazon HERE.