One of my favorite things about Diamond Jim’s Saloon was the unique drinks they served. They would mix a lot of different things together that you usually wouldn’t see. It’s hard to explain some of them, but anyone who has been to the bar knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Many of the drinks were Asian inspired. I’m not sure why, but perhaps the owner spent some time in Asia. The drinks featured a lot of Asian flavors, such as exotic fruits and some different kinds of vegetables. But my favorites were always the drinks that featured tea.
Even better, I loved the way they served the drinks. They brewed the tea right there on the bar in front of you in a glass teapot. The teapot had a little infuser inside, so you could watch the tea steep in front of your eyes. They would throw some tea leaves into the mesh infuser and you would see the dark liquid slowly seep out into the water inside the glass teapot. It was really cool.
If you want to replicate this at home, you need to get yourself one of these infuser-containing glass teapots. You’ll find a great list of them here. Any one of the teapots on there seems like a great purchase. I own the Zen teapot myself, but I would be happy with any of them. A blooming teapot is pretty cool too. I have a separate one of those, that I use specifically for flowering teas. Anyway, I got distracted. Back to the point.
In Asia, there are a lot of alcoholic drinks with tea. Oolong tea is often mixed with shochu, which is a Japanese hard alcohol. Green tea is sometimes mixed with whiskey. Black tea goes well with both, too. Those are really the three main types of tea that are mixed with alcohol. I’ve never had a white tea alcoholic drink, perhaps because white tea is much milder. It seems like pu-erh might make for a good mixer, due to its strong flavor, but I’ve never seen that used. Perhaps because it is Chinese and people don’t drink quite as often in China as they do in Japan.
I mention this a lot on my site, but I’m a huge tea drinker. I drink tea every morning and every afternoon. I vary the types of tea I drink, too. That’s mainly because I love them all. I can’t really name a favorite it just depends on my mood.
So you’ll have some days where I will drink my favorite Chinese black tea, golden monkey tea, all day long. Other days I will start out with a nice green tea or a mild white tea in the morning and then switch to oolong tea in the afternoon. Still other days, I’ll do the exact same thing, but in reverse.
Caffeine content doesn’t really play a role in my choices. Besides, there is so much misinformation out there about caffeine content and knowing exactly how much of it is in a given cup of tea is virtually impossible. So I don’t worry about it. Most tea doesn’t contain that much caffeine anyways. But I generally stop drinking in the afternoon, so it never really affects my sleep.
Anyway, the point of my long rambling is simply to say that I love tea. And for that reason, I really loved the tea drinks at Diamond Jim’s Saloon.
A lot of the other patrons never touched them. They stuck to the beer or the standard mix drinks, like a screwdriver or a rum and coke or the ever-popular vodka and red bull. But for me, I like to drink things at a bar that I can’t just make myself at home very easily.
Okay, I just realized that was a weird statement. Of course I can make tea drinks at home and probably better than they made them at the saloon. I have much better tea at home, since I import it from Asia.
I’m not sure what kind of tea they used to use at the saloon, but it was actually pretty decent. They did use loose leaf tea, which is key. Many places would just use a tea bag in the US, so I was really impressed by that. It might not be the greatest loose leaf available, but it did the trick.
And I’m not criticizing the choice of tea. I’m applauding the choice of drinks. Like I said, they had some great ones, but my favorite was probably what you would call oolonghai. That is oolong tea mixed with the Japanese shochu. Now they didn’t really serve Japanese alcohols at Diamond Jim’s, but they substituted Western alcohol just fine. Whiskey worked well for this. Using a good whiskey that’s a bit milder is ideal here. One that doesn’t overpower the tea, but mixes well with it instead.
Now I know that some people might find this article and think how great it would be to pop down to the saloon for some tea and some leather daddys or burly bears, but unfortunately, they will be sorted disappointed. Like so much of Detroit’s gay scene, the saloon no longer exists. And it’s not just the gay scene, but just all of Detroit in general. But more about that in a different post.
Luckily, you can easily make tea drinks at home. Maybe I’ll write a post with some recipes one of these days, but until then, you can simply try some of the recipes in this Buzzfeed article or on this page.
Most are pretty easy to make and they’re incredibly delicious. I won’t say they are healthy, since they do contain alcohol, but they’re healthier than the standard ultra-sweet alcoholic drinks people generally order. So give them a try and see what you think!