When I went to Thailand two years ago, I developed an obsession for the way the culture makes — make that "takes" (as is tradition) — their iced tea.
We pseudo Southerners scoop loads of sugar into ours. But Thailanders make theirs as if it were coffee — by adding milk. The result is a beautiful, layered, orange beverage that's creamy, bitter and sweet all at the same time. Better than a milk shake any day, in my opinion. So I was beyond excited to see the Long Thailand Tea listed among the specialty cocktails at My Thai's new location in Little Italy. Even more so when I discovered that it was not, in fact, a cleverly renamed Long Island Iced Tea. A spin, yes. But this is what the cocktail program at My Thai does — borrows from the familiar, then spices it up a notch.
My Thai is thoughtful about flavor. Fon Surface, the director of mixology, explains that all nine of their specialty cocktails are intentionally sweet, an effort to counterbalance and highlight, their food's fiery flavors.
Surface is also thoughtful about what ingredients she uses to sweeten her drinks, forgoing the typical simple syrups in favor of a surprising natural ingredient: Thai honey or "Doi Kham." She's also a big believer in using natural juices, playing with combinations to create balanced, richer flavors.
The Long Thailand Tea utilizes the natural orange flavoring of Thai tea. Thai tea isn't a brand; it's a type of black tea — by itself, very strong, almost overpoweringly so. Think black coffee only sweeter, and with a hint of cinnamon or clove. So for Surface it only made sense to blend Van Gogh Orange vodka to the traditional splash of half and half the restaurant uses to make the non-alcoholic variety. Both naturally highlight the tea's orange zest. She also adds a splash of Coke to give the drink a little caramel fizz.
Dangerously refreshing, the Long Thailand Tea doesn't taste like it's a boozy milkshake. But boy is it. And yet Surface doesn't suggest ordering one as a dessert drink. Rather, order one with a spicy dinner entree. The bitterness of the tea and the sweetness of the milk both act as cooling agents. A neat trick.
Or just order one because they are fricking delicious.
How to Make The Long Thailand Tea
2 parts Thai iced tea
1 part Van Gogh Orange vodka
Splash half and half
Pour, stir ingredients over iced Thai tea, and serve in a cocktail glass.
Where to Get The Long Thailand Tea
1300 Bank St., Little Italy