How Alex Guarnaschelli Adds A Boozy, Zesty Kick To Iced Tea

On a blistering summer's day, there's nothing more refreshing than a frosty glass of iced tea. The chilled, herbal notes of the tea enliven your palate and make for a satisfyingly quenching sip. However, for chef Alex Guarnaschelli, the way she likes to enjoy her beverage also takes a bit of the edge off. The Food Network star enhances her iced tea with two ingredients that add a boozy and zesty kick: whiskey and lemon juice.

To make her iced tea cocktail, the Iron Chef shakes together a strong, piping hot tea, whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar. At this step, keeping the tea hot is essential for the sugar to dissolve, and then she allows the brew to stand after shaking to let the mixture steep together. While your favorite whiskey will do fine, according to the chef, Johnnie Walker Black Label is the perfect complement to the floral flavors of the tea. Pour your boozy iced tea with a few ice cubes, garnish with a lemon slice, and enjoy. 

Lemon and whiskey elevate iced tea's floral flavors

Guarnaschelli's combination of tea and whiskey takes inspiration from a rooted tradition of alcoholic tea beverages. As early as the Colonial period, Americans were drinking iced teas in a version that was more of a boozy punch. In fact, recipes for nonalcoholic tea in the States didn't appear until 1876 in Estelle Woods Wilcox's "Buckeye Cookbook." Surprisingly, drinks such as the long island iced tea and Texas tea, while redolent of tea in taste and name, don't actually contain any tea! Nonetheless, the classic combination makes the perfect pairing for a cocktail.

The reason tea and whiskey work so well together is because the assertively herbal and earthy notes of the tea bring out similar flavors, and they coax out the vanilla note that is found in the whiskey. Guarnaschelli also fortifies the lemon flavor by making her own citrusy ice cubes. She grates lemon zest into lemon juice, sugar, and hot water — and then mixes it all together. Next, the chef pours the concoction into an ice cube tray for freezing. Drop a few of these ice cubes into a glass with your boozy iced tea, garnish with a lemon slice, and enjoy.