Encountering the unexpected during a journey is one of the many joys of travel. Imagine, for example, sitting in a rooftop bar in China – the country where tea drinking originated and remains a meaningful part of daily culture – and asking the bartender to recommend a local drink. Instead of offering something with tea leaves, as you might expect, you’re served a complex coffee-inspired cocktail with an equally enriching tie to Asian culture.
#CocktailQuarterly, the year-long initiative focused on cocktail trends, techniques and ingredients, turns its attention to tea and coffee cocktails. In celebration, mixologists at Four Seasons hotels and resorts around the world are shaking, stirring, steeping and serving drinks inspired by these classic brews – and working hard to eschew convention with their concoctions.
Here is a taste of the mixologists’ creativity.
Florence: Grog in Florence
Coffee is such an integral part of Italian culture that even the U.S. has adapted the Italian vocabulary for its favourite drinks. Whether it’s leisurely sipping cappuccino or a quick shot of espresso at the café before work, coffee is part of every true Italian’s morning ritual.
Excellent coffee is available in plenty at Atrium Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, but when creating his newest cocktail, Grog in Florence, Assistant Bar Manager Luca Angeli was inspired by the oriental flavours of lapsang souchong.
“It’s a different way to serve afternoon tea in a cocktail style.”
This bright, citrusy drink is poured from a classic teapot and sipped from teacups. Ginger-infused rum, 23-year Zacapa rum and Amaro Nonino form the boozy base, while cranberry and lime juice along with house-made lapsang souchong syrup lighten up the drink with fresh top notes.
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
Beijing: Kopi Luwak Martini
The art of drinking tea originally developed in China during the Tang dynasty, and hundreds of varieties are produced and enjoyed in that vast country today. However, Opus Lounge, the rooftop bar at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing, is getting creative with another caffeinated beverage.
Bartender John Cheng’s Kopi Luwak Martini is mixed with a rare Indonesian coffee, made from coffee cherries eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet, a small mammal found in Southeast Asia. (Producers and connoisseurs claim that kopi luwak’s flavour is improved by the fermentation that occurs in the civet’s digestive tract.)
At Opus Lounge, bartenders use a Neapolitan coffee press filled with dry ice that diffuses the delicate coffee aroma while Kahlua and Malibu rum add the alcoholic element. The smoking cocktail is finished with an elegant dusting of espresso powder.
Four Seasons Hotel Beijing
Mumbai: Madras Café
Like China, India is a major tea producer, and Northeastern India is known for its large tea estates. Travel to the Southern region of the country, though, and you’ll find plenty of coffee. In Mumbai, business is often conducted over one of these brews, and each household has its own favourite blend or preparation of tea or coffee to start the day.
Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai embraces the city’s rich history of coffee drinking with the Madras Café. The cocktail, served at AER and San-Qi, combines South Indian–style coffee with curry leaf, passion fruit purée and pineapple juice to make a shaken drink that’s an unusual balance of sweet and bitter, spiked with Absolut vodka and served on the rocks.
Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai
Scottsdale: Two Birds With One Stone
U.S. Americans drink three times as much coffee as tea, but Assistant Manager Nick Padua at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North chose to create his latest concoction with organic tea. Inspired by the environmental extremes of the Sonoran Desert, Two Birds With One Stone is a drink that can warm you up on a cold desert night or leave you refreshed after a round of golf under the sun.
At Talavera and Onyx Bar & Lounge, the cocktail is served either hot or over ice, mirroring the desert’s hot days and chilly nights. The innovative drink pairs Rishi Tea’s organic loose-leaf camomile tea with Dewars White Label scotch, sweetened with local Sonoran honey and house-made orange marmalade. The tea-infused cocktail is brewed and served tableside with candied citrus rinds.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Maldives: Kuda Coffee
While sai (a sweet tea) is a traditional beverage enjoyed by local Maldivians, Indonesian coffee and local ingredients are the staples for the Kuda Coffee cocktail at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa. A kopi toraja variety of coffee from the Sulawesi island of Indonesia is combined with fresh Maldivian coconut, kopi leaf and Sri Langkan arak that add local flair.
In honour of the Resort’s sundowner happy hour tradition, these stirred drinks will be available on a buy-one-get-one basis between 5 and 7:30 pm each evening at Sunset Lounge. Ask Chinnappan for a cocktail class, and he’ll teach you how to make the drink from scratch.
Editor’s note: While some of these coffee and tea cocktails may no longer be listed on the menu, most can be made upon special request.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
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