Tea is the key ingredient in a lot of drinks at Travis Tober’s Nickel Metropolis bars: Mint tea fills out a slushy Southside, whereas inexperienced tea provides stunning nuance to frozen Hurricanes and Chi Chis. And for Tober’s signature frozen Margarita, well-diluted orange pekoe brings an extra layer of complexity and tannic spine.
“You don’t ever wish to add something [to a frozen cocktail] that doesn’t add any taste,” says Tober. That’s why his bars name on frozen tea instead of ice cubes.
Whereas the Nickel Metropolis bars—one every in Austin and Fort Value, plus a 3rd in Houston opening this fall—function massive machines that swirl up scores of slushy drinks inside minutes, the dilution method additionally works for single servings, utilizing ice cubes constituted of one tea bag steeped in 32 ounces of water, then cooled.
The recipe has been in place since Nickel Metropolis first opened about seven years in the past, and it has barely modified since then. The tea method happened as a result of Tober was “taking part in with flavors.” He was impressed by the “Regal Shake,” which includes shaking a drink with a chunk of citrus peel so as to add nuanced aroma and important oils from the peel, whereas the pith provides a slight drying impact. Tea, he reasoned, would provide an identical final result.
Whereas he’d experimented with a variety of teas over time, he chosen orange pekoe, a sort of black tea, for the Margarita due to its versatility. Although there’s no precise orange within the tea, it harmonizes properly with citrusy Cointreau. Additional, the tea is diluted to the purpose the place it provides only a trace of taste, accenting however not overpowering the primary components.
It took only some tries to nail the recipe. The proportions are just like these of many traditional Margs. Winnowed right down to a single serve, an oz and half of blanco tequila leads the drink; lately he’s utilizing Tromba, an easy-to-find model with a grassy word that he feels goes properly with frozen cocktails. “It had sufficient character in it, but it surely wasn’t so over-the-top it threw off different flavors,” says Tober.
From there, Cointreau was a simple choice, for its greater proof, acquainted taste and extensive availability. “It simply made sense to stay with the granddaddy of orange liqueurs,” he says.
Then, Cointreau is paired with wealthy easy syrup, manufactured from two components sugar to 1 half water, persevering with the theme of retaining dilution to a minimal. “The extra unflavored water I can take out, the higher,” Tober says.
He additionally tinkered with the lime juice part, mixing three components Persian lime juice to 1 half Key lime, a way he first honed whereas making three-rum Daiquiris at Austin’s now-closed VOX Desk. The mix presents higher steadiness, is much less acidic and “makes a extra crushable cocktail.”
Essentially the most difficult half was getting the fitting consistency. “We wished it virtually like a gentle serve, to carry as much as Texas summers and never soften too fast,” he says. After tinkering with the dilution, he discovered the candy spot to be between 20 and 26 p.c dilution, together with his present model of the cocktail ending up round 22 p.c. Whereas he makes use of a frozen-drink machine at his bar, for house use he suggests freezing diluted tea into cubes, and mixing the drink utilizing a Vitamix or three-speed Hamilton Seashore blender.
The crowning glory is the drink’s presentation, which is among the solely components that has modified over time. Whereas the Margarita has been served variously in goblets or “tacky cactus glassware,” lately Nickel Metropolis serves it in 12-ounce plastic cups, as to-go drinks have flourished because the pandemic. In the meantime, the garnish has morphed from a contemporary lime wheel to a dehydrated one, with the choice so as to add salt or a Tajín chile seasoning rim to style.
However, frankly, the Margarita doesn’t want a lot workshopping, Tober concludes.
“We attempt to not overthink it,” he says. “We have been attempting to recreate a extremely well-made frozen. Now, I’m the frozen man, I get questions on it on a regular basis.”