Many people don't know that I got into tea by way of drinking wine: After several years enjoying the grape, I decided that I needed to cut some calories. To my delight, I discovered that tea drinking could offer me many of the delights of wine drinking without the risk of excess poundage or getting tipsy.
I still enjoy wine, though, and my favorite place to drink it is 694 Wine and Spirits (formerly Juicy Wine Co) in River West/Noble Square. Their wine selection is excellent, as is their menu of fine meats, cheeses and the best grilled cheese in Chicago. My friends who run the place have asked me in the past to help them with a tea-themed treat, and I was happy to work with my friend Tony Gebley of Chicago Tea Garden to provide some of his awesome Keemun for a chicken marinade.
This time, they asked for an autumn-type tea that they could brew up as a toddy for their 2nd annual pumpkin carving party. I chose the English Tea Store's Pumpkin Spice Black Tea, an affordable black tea that tastes remarkably like pumpkin pie. 694's bartender extraordinaire, Patrick Mahon, came up with a tasty toddy that hit the spot on that cold night:
Pour 10 ounces of hot Pumpkin Spice tea into a large, thick mug
Add 1 shot (1.5 ounces) of Maker's Mark bourbon and 1 shot brandy
Add honey to taste and stir
(Another option is to substitute spiced rum for the bourbon and add a slice of lemon to your cup.)
Either way, Patrick's experiments resulted in a heartening hot drink that should keep you warm during the upcoming Chicago winter. Enjoy!