Shanghai-Inspired Liqueurs

Made by the couple who own Cranston’s popular Cha Bai ramen house, the Cheongsam Tea Liqueurs had us at hello.

oolong2The two versions – currently produced in China but available only in Rhode Island – are hand-crafted with natural extractions of exotic whole leaf teas. They’re captivating and nuanced. And they’re really delicious.

Named after the traditional “Cheongsam” dress that was created in Shanghai in the 1920s, the liqueurs are meant to evoke the mystery and elegance of that time and place.

The Jade Oolong, made from jade green Ti-Kuan Yin oolong tea, has delicate notes of honey and orchid, and tastes like a grown up, elegant version of the hot tea Chinese restaurants in America have been serving for decades.

The Smokey Mist’s proprietary blend of black teas produces a complex though delicate slightly-sweet liqueur that is redolent of smoked pine needles, plums and apricots.

Both are excellent additions to a well-stocked home bar given their affinity with most spirits: they play well with vodka, rum and tequila, as well as with sparkling wine or soda water. We also recommend serving them just as they are, at home, after a dinner from your favorite Asian take-out.

For our cocktails, our drinks guru Lily Rogers chose to pair the Cheongsam liqueurs with gin in a simple yet versatile recipe. The combination of the herbaceous Sons of Liberty True Born gin with the slightly sweet tea liqueur and tart & minty lemon lends these Shanghai-inspired cocktails the feel of a sultry summer evening.

The two drinks below are identical, save for the liqueurs. The simple base allows these magical liqueurs to take center stage.

oolong1Shanghai, RI

10 lemon balm leaves
1.5oz True Born Gin
1oz Cheongsam Jade Oolong liqueur
1oz simple syrup
.75oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon balm leaf for garnish

Tear the 10 lemon balm leaves and add them to a shaker. Add liquid ingredients, fill with ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Smack the remaining whole lemon balm leaf between palms to release oils and float on top of drink.

Shanghai Summer

10 lemon balm leaves
1.5oz True Born Gin
1oz Cheongsam Smokey Mist liqueur
1oz simple syrup
.75oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon balm leaf for garnish

Tear the 10 lemon balm leaves and add them to a shaker. Add liquid ingredients, fill with ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Smack the remaining whole lemon balm leaf between palms to release oils and float on top of drink.

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