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Liq­uid Austin

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE - Emma janzen / amer­i­can-states­man Find the Fla­vor www. austin360.com/ liq­uid.

March and Emily Mor­ri­son aimed to have some­thing for ev­ery­one on their drink menu. They cre­ated a list of “TeaTails” in ad­di­tion to their hot and cold tea of­fer­ings.

At first glance, many of the drinks look as elab­o­rate as one might find at the near­est craft cock­tail bar. It’s not of­ten you find drinks that don’t con­tain al­co­hol crafted with such care and cre­ativ­ity.

When con­jur­ing the con­coc­tions, March and Mor­ri­son use a process sim­i­lar to that of the mod­ern craft bar­tender.

March says her skill in this area sprouts from her culi­nary back­ground, where success comes in the form of bring­ing to­gether dis­parate fla­vors with el­e­gance to craft a per­fect dish. Hav­ing the abil­ity to con­sider all the dif­fer­ent po­ten­tial com­po­nents that can cre­ate a fancy non­al­co­holic drink — the base, the bit­ter, the sweet, the aro­matic and gar­nishes — and find­ing a way to get them to mesh to­gether into a fi­nal balanced prod­uct is key.

The first step is choos­ing the base liq­uid.

“Find crisp, clean bases, good fla­vors to build on. That’s a good way to cre­ate a suc­cess­ful drink,” March says.

Tea makes for a great base be­cause it has an in­her­ent dry­ness that other liq­uids do not have. Other op­tions range from sim­ple club soda or tonic water to spicy gin­ger beer (which con­trary to its ti­tle, doesn’t have any al­co­hol), tame sparkling cider, or drink­ing vine­gar.

“Look at dif­fer­ent bubbly min­eral wa­ters, dif­fer­ent teas,” March said. “How can we bring in a base palate fla­vor and build off of it with­out the al­co­hol? Peo­ple don’t have to be seg­re­gated to just Coca-Cola.”

De­pend­ing on the amount of sugar al­ready in the base in­gre­di­ent, con­sider whether the drink needs an ad­di­tional sweet­en­ing agent.

“A lit­tle bit of sugar can lift both flo­ral and fruit notes, so it’s a use­ful tool,” March says. “I think of it as a tool to high­light, ver­sus be­com­ing the first fla­vor in the drink.”

Sim­ple syrup in­fused with spices or fruit, agave nec­tar, or a tea-based syrup are great in­gre­di­ents to play with. Al­ways keep bal­ance in mind. The less over-the-top sweet the drink is, the more likely a guest can en­joy more than one.

Next, bring in ad­di­tional fla­vor el­e­ments to com­ple­ment and en­hance the base. Spices can add a bit­ter per­son­al­ity, cit­rus juice can lighten and lift heavy fla­vors, and herbs can bring an earthy touch to the mix. Most of them can be in­cor­po­rated through the syrup, or di­rectly mud­dled, stirred or shaken, just as an al­co­holic cock­tail would be.

March likes us­ing a va­ri­ety of aro­mat­ics to in­crease the di­ver­sity of fla­vors in her drinks. “Flo­ral el­e­ments, like rose water, or­ange flower water; things that are more per­fum­ing, if used spar- Hav­ing a hard time de­cid­ing which fla­vors might com­ple­ment one an­other? Try ref­er­enc­ing“The Fla­vor Bi­ble,”by Karen Page and An­drew Dor­nen­burg, which of­fers an en­cy­clo­pe­dia of rec­om­men­da­tions. Your guests will thank you. For tips on how to make sim­ple syrup, great sea­sonal fla­vor com­bi­na­tions, and more non­al­co­holic drink ideas, visit in­gly, pro­vide an un­der­tone, some­thing that makes it a lit­tle unique.”

Fi­nally, most of the best al­co­hol-based cock­tails are com­pleted with a gar­nish. Don’t shy away from this el­e­ment in the non­al­co­holic drink as well. A whiff of or­ange zest or bun­dle of fresh mint can tickle the senses and cre­ate a re­mark­able gate­way into the drink.

“Fresh nut­meg to grate, cin­na­mon sticks, mint, fresh cit­rus rinds to rub on the glass, all of those things are really im­por­tant,” March says.

Pull out a sin­gle fla­vor from within the drink and dec­o­rate the top of the glass with an en­tic­ing burst to add that de­tail.

At the Steeping Room, the best ex­am­ple of this process is an exquisitely balanced “Mo­jteato,” a riff on the rum-based mo­jito.

“I wanted a mo­jito with­out al­co­hol, so we started with club soda, and we mud­dle our mint with a lit­tle sim­ple syrup, and then we whisk in a lit­tle matcha to bring in the tea side of it,” March says. “In­stead of us­ing a heavy iced tea, we use the tea pow­der, which makes it emer­ald bright, but it also makes it ex­tremely clean and brings a crisp and slightly sharp fla­vor. There’s a sweet, creamy side to matcha, but there’s also that slightly as­trin­gent fla­vor that matches with the club soda. And then bring­ing in an aro­matic like mint. It’s meant to re­fresh.”

For your own in­ven­tive hol­i­day drinks, March rec­om­mends find­ing in­spi­ra­tion in the fresh fla­vors of the sea­son, which can be dis­cov­ered at the lo­cal farmer’s mar­ket. “There are great sat­sumas right now, lots of fresh pomegranates. Fla­vors I like this time of year are or­ange, gin­ger, caramel, and cin­na­mon, if I want to go with that nat­u­ral sea­sonal fla­vor,” she says. “Make a cin­na­mon ex­tract or syrup. Bring in some star anise or clove.”

At The Steeping Room, they use a va­ri­ety of in­gre­di­ents to en­hance their non­al­co­holic cock­tail of­fer­ings. Rose water, matcha pow­der, tea leaves and or­ange flower water are em­ployed in drinks such as the Mo­jteato.

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