Apple Spice Tea Cocktail

What started as one thing found new life as another. Such is the theme of so many of our lives, isn’t it? A job that defined a totally different passion. An injury that led to greater strength. A chance encounter that grew into love, then marriage. 
Sometimes, these diverted pathways are wonderfully inconsequential, as was the case with this cocktail. It began as an experimentation into Turkish Apple Tea: a real-ingredients makeover of the red powdered variety served in tourist cafes and shisha bars. I’d use whole apples, oranges and punchy spices and serve it hot after dinner.
Then the sun came out. I remembered the half-full bottle of vodka in the freezer. My, how sexily it would pair with honey and orange blossom. 
Of course, one could simmer the fruit and spices, sweeten with honey, and enjoy while still steaming. I simply cannot resist a cocktail that complements any season, is practically guilt free, and reminds me to always be spontaneous, even in the tiniest of ways.

APPLE SPICE TEA COCKTAIL
Makes 1 liter


Provisions:
3 seasonal red apples
2 oranges
6 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 whole cloves
1 piece star anise
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 rounded tbsp honey
Chilled vodka, to taste

Method:
Slice the apples and oranges in quarters, then in half, keeping the peels on. Place in a large saucepan with the cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise and water.

Bring the mixture to the boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, or until the apples and oranges are very tender. Stir in the honey and orange blossom water, then remove from the heat and let steep until it reaches room temperature.

Strain through a fine sieve, mashing the cooked fruit to extract as as much juice as possible. Pour into a pitcher and place in the fridge to cool. When ready to serve, add ice and vodka, to taste. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or fresh apple slices.

Audio pairing: Disclosure f/ Sam Smith, “Latch”