Tea infused cocktails make fabulous drinks. We travel to Marrakesh, Morocco, and the famed Le Caspien Hotel to meet up with Chef Joel Kazouini for this refreshingly simple yet flavorful Moroccan Mint Tea Martini.
Mint Tea Simple Syrup
1 cup boiling water
2T Napoleona Moroccan Mint tea
1 cup sugar
Add tea to boiling water and steep for 3-4 minutes. Strain out tea leaves, then add sugar and boil again, 2 to 4 minutes.
Dance until this cools.
Note, this simple syrup can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
2 oz unflavored Vodka
1 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz. Mint Tea Infused Simple Syrup
Put ice into martini shaker and add all ingredients.
Pour and enjoy!
Note, you can rim each glass with 1/3 each salt, sugar and mint tea leaves, all blended together. Rim each glass with lime juice then press rim into spice mixture. Pour in drink and serve with wedge of lime or fresh mint leaves.
NT: You have restaurants both in Chicago and Marrakesh, Morocco. How do you balance the concepts and the locations?
CJ: Chez Joel Bistro at my hotel Le Caspien in Marrakesh is wonderful for travelers to enjoy while touring the city and surrounds. They find our place a comfortable, elegant setting for lunch and dinner. We serve such a variety of guests at our Marrakesh location–Americans, Australians, Europeans among so many others; many stay at our hotel as well, as it is so centrally located for the sites.
Chez Joel Bistro in Chicago has customers who we see every week; they love the menu and the ambiance and have become like family to us. I have created menus for both restaurants that are French inspired, with select Italian elements.
NT: Your history in the industry includes opening French and Italian inspired restaurants–can you give us the rundown?
CJ: I first worked at Angelina’s on Broadway in Chicago, then opened Ooh La La, Mari Monte, Oceanique and Clark Street Bistro. With one of my brothers, I opened Chez Joel Bistro, Chicago, in 1999, then Le Caspien Hotel in Marrakesh in 2004 which features our second site for Chez Joel Bistro.
NT: What continues to inspire you most with such a long history in culinary experiences?
CJ: I really love when our customers are simply savoring the experience of dining that we offer–I can tell when they are pleased and that makes all the difference for me.
NT: What can customers expect at Chez Joel Bistro?
CJ: A wonderful experience of fine dining–flavorful, beautifully presented food that retains French inspiration, but is not fussy or formal. The Bistro element, as in our name of Chez Joel Bistro, is important to us. At both restaurants in Chicago and Marrakesh, we offer garden dining options, while many of our customers enjoy our interiors for their romantic ambiance and decor. Our spaces are special places that have inspired a number of weddings! Customers can also expect attentive, discreet service–that is essential to me in defining our success.
NT: Tea is a trend in cocktails right now and you offer a number of cocktails on your menu–what’s the latest?
CJ: We have just created a Moroccan Mint Tea Martini with Napoleona Tea–a wonderfully refreshing cocktail for summer that is actually so easy to make, but tastes more complicated. The sweet/salty/mint tea rim adds a notable flourish. Try it!
NT: What’s next?
CJ: I am exploring another restaurant in the US, in an area where we can serve customers outdoors year round. I love the ability to create on a daily basis, using ingredients that are inspiring to me. So, my next place will have that element–that keeps me :”in the zone” of my skills and interests.
NT: What’s one thing customers might not know about you?
CJ: Though I am Moroccan, I have learned so much in America and have embraced a good bit of the culture and life here..
As I travel and work between Chicago and Marrakesh; when I am in Morocco, they actually call me “the American!”