As the days burn brighter and the night air becomes milder, there's no doubt spring is at our doorstep. Celebrate the welcome changing of the seasons with one of these herbaceous cocktails at six local bars that put the 'party' back into 'tea party.'
Conor at Maggie’s is JR Mocanu’s inventive (and decidedly stronger) take on a shandy, kicked up with the addition of Tullamore D.E.W. VOX Table’s bar manager steeps Zhi Oothu white tea in Real Ale Hans' Pils for six minutes at a tea temperature of 185 degrees, then strains it and adds sugar to create a tea-infused pilsner syrup. "Tea's main purpose in a cocktail is to enhance the mouthfeel," says Mocanu. "A tea cocktail will feel fuller, and have a more tannic structure." Bittermens-hopped grapefruit bitters and lemon round off the drink, while a dollop of beer foam frosts the surface. 1100 S. Lamar Blvd. #2140, 512-375-4869
Bar owners Dennis Gobis and Justin Lavenue created an instant signature cocktail with the cigar box. Mezcal is given a surprising spin with the addition of syrup made from lapsang souchong (a smoked Chinese black tea), floral lavender bitters, and woodsy tobacco bitters. Best of all, the drink arrives with a flamed cinnamon stick resting on the edge of the glass, which emits fragrant tendrils of smoke as you sip your drink. 307 W. Fifth St., 512-494-4094
Locally grown is the name of the game at Emmer & Rye, and the bar program is no exception. Bar manager Adam Tellmon created the Tea3 cocktail using Mexican mint marigold (also known as Texas tarragon) grown in the restaurant’s patio garden. The aromatic plant, used for medicinal purposes in ancient South American cultures, has notes of licorice, which Tellmon layers in with tamarind, honey spiced with ginger and vanilla, and Aylesbury Duck vodka as the base spirit. 51 Rainey St. #110, 512-366-5530
Located in the vibrant and bustling North Loop district, this bar plus eatery is ideal for cocktail and food connoisseurs alike. Here, we like to sit down with Tibetan Crush, which balances the spiciness of Mt. Gay Black Barrel rum with the sweetly bitter Pimm’s, smoked black tea cordial, Bittermens molé bitters, and fresh lime. The best part may be getting the drink in a tiki mug, garnished with an expressed orange peel—you'll feel instantly transported to the islands after one sip. 207 E. 53rd St., 512-614-6683
Before entering the bar world, Mariko Buser was a cook, and she still draws upon her culinary knowledge now as a bar manager at Péché. Recalling from her pastry experience that earl grey and apricot flavors complement each other, Buser offers up the porch swing cocktail using Zhi earl grey tea, which is robust with bergamot and lavender. "I chose cognac as the base spirit because I knew it would carry the floral and fruity notes, while also providing a subtle hint of chocolate," she explains. Lemon unites all the components with a brightness meant for porch sipping, as the nights start to get warmer. 208 W. Fourth St., 512-494-4011
This glorious watering hole located inside Hotel Emma boasts a captivating backstory, along with a menu chockfull of memorable libations. Here, patrons can sip on everything from classic gin-based sips like Three Emmas made with gran classico, apricot, and absinthe to Guns of Brixton—mixed with earl grey tea-infused gin, cacao, lemon, and Smith & Cross rum, shaken and served over crushed ice—a possible (and worthy) ode to English punk rock band, The Clash's, famous namesake tune. 136 E. Grayson St., San Antonio, 210-448-8300