Tea-infused booze warms up the Aster Cafe

A row of dazzling tea infused liquors

A row of dazzling tea infused liquors

Sure it's cozy and cute up in the Aster Cafe, but it's kinda cold and you don't feel like making the trip. That's fine, but you'll be missing out on their tea-infused booze. Sitting neatly up behind the bar, the liquors' jewel and amber tones speak to you, leading you to imagine the potent possibilities. It's the Aster's way of handling the craft cocktail craze--done in its signature friendly and low-key way.

Just what kind of tea-liquor infusions are they making at the Aster Cafe, and how did they come about?

[jump] When owners Matty O'Reilly and Tom Peterson took over the place in 2010, they found several large glass jars but weren't sure what to do with them. In the meantime, they brought in high-quality teas from TeaSource and wanted to find new ways to use the tasty loose leaves (and remind folks that TeaSource is a great local company). After getting the place up and running, they got the wise idea to combine those two goals into one activity--infusing liquors with tea.

At the moment, the varieties they are making include: Lemon Solstice Jameson Whiskey, Earl Grey Vodka, Moroccan Mint Rum, Pomegranate Green Tea Vodka, African Skies Tequila, and Red Berries Gin. All are steeped at room temperature, but each varietal has a different optimum infusion time--from two hours to as much as two days. And, while they are delicious neat or on the rocks, most people go for the tea-infused cocktails on the Aster's drink menu.

According to our bartender Michael, the most popular drink this winter is the Jalopy, which combines the Lemon Solstice Jameson with Fentimans ginger beer over ice. The Whippet is also a fan favorite. It mixes Pomegranate Green Tea Vodka and grapefruit juice with that irrepressible drink accoutrement--the sugar rim.

Ever the rebels, Hot Dish ordered an El Camino (tequila infused with red rooibos tea, lime, and grapefruit juice) and a Gin et Jus #99 (gin with red berries tea and fresh-squeezed lemonade). All of the loose-leaf-tea-infused cocktails will run you $7.50 or $5 at happy hour (despite what the website says). Both of ours came over ice in tall glasses. The drinks definitely helped us pretend that we were poolside near palm trees even as a storm raged outside. We're quite sure that a bit of the infused Jameson would warm you up as well.