They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire– it isn’t necessarily true if we’re down to the smoldering embers, but, well, they say it anyway. In our case, where there was fire, now there’s smoke, and it’s time to stoke your enthusiasm for the next challenge.
What does Istanbul have to do with smoke? Well, I was lucky to spend several weeks traveling in Turkey during the cold winter of 2005. On a backpacker budget, I stayed in lots of cheap hotels that were drafty and had inconsistent warm water. The place my travel companion and I would often go to warm up was one of the many tea shops scattered around any urban area in Turkey. Inside you could escape the cold, have a cup of strong and sweet tea, play backgammon, and rent a hookah to pass the time.
This drink is an homage to those memories and also designed to be sipped as an accompaniment to enjoying a hookah. The recipe is functionally an apple brandy sour with some Turkish flavors tossed in to make it a little more special. My favorite shisha flavor has always been apple or cardamom so both of those flavors go into the drink via the apple brandy and cardamom syrup. Sumac is a tart berry that is a common cooking ingredient in Turkish food so the sumac tincture is there to blend the lemon and brandy harmoniously. Finally, the lapsang souchong syrup stands in for that strong, sweet, hot tea that I drank so many glasses of. Plus, it brings in the smoke flavor for the drink. This drink, like a hookah, is only subtly smokey but the flavor is definitely there. Enjoy!
- 2 oz. Laird's 7-Year Apple Brandy
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1 barspoon sumac tincture*
- ¼ oz. cardamom syrup**
- ½ oz. lapsang souchong syrup***
- 3 dashes Fee Brother's Barrel-Aged bitters
- Combine all ingredients. Stir with ice. Strain into a glass with a single large ice cube.
- * Sumac tincture: Combine 3 tablespoons dried sumac with a ¼ cup vodka. Allow to steep covered for 24 hours. Strain through cheesecloth until sediment is removed.
- ** Cardamom syrup: Bring 1 cup of water and ¼ cup cardamom pods to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup sugar. Allow cardamom to steep in syrup for 3 days. Strain to remove cardamom pods. Store in an old salsa jar.
- *** Lapsang Souchong syrup: Prepare lapsang souchong tea at normal strength. Stir in equal amount of sugar. Half-heartedly attempt to remove label from IKEA lingonberry syrup bottle. Give up. Store in the bottle anyway.