January 31, 2013
[Photographs: Linda Xiao]
The Amber Palmer from Rouge Tomate in New York City is a loose, seasonal interpretation of the classic mix of lemonade and tea. This liquor-free sparkler is a refreshingly tangy, complex alternative to a simple iced tea or a sweet Arnold Palmer, and it's easy to make at home.
For the drink's tea base, Rogue Tomate's head bartender, Cristian Molina, creates a black and jasmine green tea blend, giving it plenty of time to cool before service. He eschews lemon altogether, looking to grapefruit instead for his citrus. Molina combines grapefruit juice—"Ruby red is best"—with a stalk's worth of rosemary leaves.
He uses a blender to incorporate the rosemary into the juice, leaving the bits unstrained for the final drink. When it's time to mix, he combines the tea and juice with light agave syrup and a pinch of mint in a shaker with ice; the ice awakens the mint flavor as he shakes. Molina adds seltzer at the finish, giving it just a light stir so as not to diffuse its bubbles.
Effervescent with deep tea flavors, a funky grapefruit tang, a light herbal undercurrent, and just enough sweetness to balance the bitter, you won't find a spritzer like this in a bottle.
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