4 ounces chai tea (cooled)
2 ounces ginger infused vodka
1 ounce sweetened condensed milk
Combine ingredients over ice, stir, strain, and serve with ice.
Garnish with candied ginger
Optional: Use an atomizer filled with angostura bitters to ignite bitters over the drink before serving to add a smoky aroma to the drink (also a gimmicky way to impress guests). To ignite bitters simply spark the lighter, and aim the atomizer towards the drink, two to three sprays should suffice.
To make the ginger infused vodka, start by peeling a piece of fresh ginger and chopping it into small bits. Then steep the ginger in vodka for about 30-60mins shaking regularly. Finish by straining out the ginger. A shorter infusion period is used here to avoid introducing a bitter flavor from the decomposition of the organic matter from the ginger pieces.
In a few words, this cocktail (no name-suggestions welcome) is a smooth drink that has a light kick from the ginger infusion. A warm version of the drink can be made by using warm chai tea instead of cooled, and not stirring over ice. However, I’ve found that doing this accentuates the alcohol taste from the vodka- more condensed milk can be used to mask that flavor.
In terms of experimenting with this drink there are number of directions that could be interesting to explore. There is a ginger liqueur called Big O I’ve seen starting to pop up which could be an effective substitute for the ginger infused vodka (which admittedly is not the most versatile infusion). Unfortunately due to the price ($40/bottle) and lack of perceived versatility, I haven’t had the opportunity to try Big O yet. Another potential idea is to try making ginger infused dark rum to use instead of the vodka. Using a dark rum, rather than vodka, could add a new layer of depth to the drink that the vodka couldn’t provide.
Interestingly after a bit of searching, I found that there are a few chai tea liqueurs on the market, the most popular seem to be Voyant Chai (a liqueur which is comprised of basically everything in the chai tea cocktail described here), and Dancing Pines Chai Tea Liqueur (which seems to be more of a tea liqueur rather than a cream liquer). Finally, I came across a recipe for creating a liqueur similar to Voyant Chai which seems like it could be a fun project. I plan to try this recipe once summer is over and going outside stops being the equivalent of taking a shower, will report back with results.