2 Seasonal Tea Cocktails

Photos and Recipe By Andy Berndt; Mister Berndt Photography

 Spiked Russian Tea & Aquavit Toddy



This Spiked Russian Tea delivers just the right amount of cinnamon sweet, with a touch of citrus on top.

Growing up, I remember making a drink called "Russian tea". It sounds awful when you explain the recipe, but as a kid it was pretty magical. It was a mixture of instant tea powder, Tang, instant lemonade, and then cinnamon and clove powder. I would drink it warm, and I remember sipping it and thinking I was really cultured. It tasted like it was from a different country.




 This cocktail brings me back to that time, but with a more refined, adult palette. I like to make my hot drinks so people can adjust the level of spirit. With this in mind, I make the tea first and then add the spirit at the end.



How to Make Spiked Russian Tea

Servings: 4 | Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 30 min | Total Time: 40 min



  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tea bags of Assam black tea (or a different spicy black tea)
  • 2.5 tbsp honey or brown sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 heaping tbsp whole clove
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods (slightly smashed)
  • 2 clementines for garnish (If you're feeling fancy)
  • 2 shots Bourbon (or whiskey of choice)


    1. Boil four cups of water.  
    2. Add tea bags, sweetener, and spices. (If you have an empty tea bag or tea ball, you can add spices there and you don't have to fish out later.) 
    3. Steep for 6 minutes and remove the tea bag. Steep spices for an additional 6 minutes.
    4. Grill oranges and squeeze into the tea mixture. (To grill, simply cut in half, place citrus open-side down on the grill grate, and char until edges darken.) 
    5. Add sweetener to taste. 
    6. Measure Bourbon first into your serving cups, and then pour the tea on top. 
    7. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and charred tangerine to smell while you drink it. 




The Aquavit Tea Toddy marries summer and winter together: bright flavors of aquavit and citrus with the warmth of mint tea. 

It's cold for the majority of the year in Minnesota. When you're outside, you need something to warm you up. I enjoy a traditional hot toddy, but I also love a drink that has more summer notes than winter ones.




 Akvavit is a popular nordic liquor and is often drunk during festive gatherings, such as Christmas dinners and weddings, and as an aperitif. If aquavit is hard to find in your area, gin will do, as they are from the same family.




How to Make Aquavit Toddy

Servings: 4 | Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 15 min | Total Time: 25 min



  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tea bags of peppermint tea (or fresh mint from your garden)
  • 2.5 tbsp honey or brown sugar
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 2 shots aquavit (we recommend Vikre's Aquavit from Duluth MN)


    1. Boil water. 
    2. Steep tea for 6 minutes. 
    3. Once brewed, squeeze as much lemon as you’d like into the tea.
    4. Sweeten with honey or brown sugar.  
    5. Measure aquavit first into your serving cup, and then pour the tea on top. 
    6. Garnish with a sprig of mint and lemon twist to smell while you drink it. 



Andy Berndt is a photographer living in St. Paul Minnesota. Never far from the water. Always planning my next adventure. Misterberndt.com.

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