Shift Drinks – Tenzin Samdo’s High Tide Tea for Two

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CHRISTOPHER MCINTOSH

Tavern Road’s Tenzin Samdo has the recipe to unwinding at the end of the day—down to a tea. He adds an element of relaxation to the shift drink experience with a Nautical Gin cocktail that blends the restaurant ritual with Japanese tea traditions. Samdo emphasizes the elegance of a well-crafted drink with fresh, tropical ingredients and a touch of effervescence for a thoughtful finish to the workday. Here, the Beverage Director shares his shareable beverage and the importance of slowing down end-of-shift.


The drink I made is called High Tide Tea for Two. It’s very elegant. Sometimes when you have a long day and you’ve been working so hard, you want to wind down with one of your favorite people. The tea comes in a very beautiful 12-ounce teapot. When it’s presented in front of you, you won’t see a glass full of cocktail, you’ll see an empty cup with a beautiful ice cube. All you do is pour for your significant other and yourself.

I went to college for set design and photography and I did a lot of artistry. One thing that always stuck in my mind is Japanese tea ceremonies. Those movements: how smooth and flowing it looks, how calm it looks. We are in such a fast-paced world. Every time you look up there’s a TV on. We are always on the go. When people go out, it’s like, they’re spending that money. For me, it’s a huge compliment that they come to my bar and I want to respect that person’s time with the experience: very elegant, clean, hospitable. Those are the things I saw in the tea ceremonies. I wanted to make sure to create this very beautiful, night-out kind of drink.

Nautical has a really approachable, botanical flavor profile. Lemongrass stands out. I don’t see many gins that use that. I think it’s easy to create a really crushable, refreshing concoction.

When I design a cocktail, I always keep two things in mind. I think about both sides. I want to make sure all my bartender friends and chefs will enjoy the drink that I’m creating. At the same time, I want to make it approachable to a new drinker.

The flavor base – that mango honey matcha, all that lemongrass – it blends out really well when you shake it with fresh citrus. When you top it with the bubbles, it breaks it all down. It kind of mellows it out in the mouth. It’s so refreshing.

A lot of people think of a shift drink as a High Life and Fernet. Boom, boom. For me, it’s like, I’m done with work. Now I just want to relax. I don’t want to push my body and drink a very herbaceous, spirit-forward kind of drink. For me, a shift drink is to sit down with somebody you care for and love. That was the whole idea.

cm2_6038High Tide Tea for Two

3 ounces Nautical Gin
2 ounces matcha & mango syrup
1 ounce lemon juice
Bubbles ( Cava or Brut )

Pour the gin, syrup and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 5 seconds and double-strain into a 12-ounce tea pot. Top with bubbles. Serve over a large ice cub and sprinkle with matcha powder.

cm2_6030Matcha & Mango Syrup
makes one cup

1 teaspoon matcha powder (Matcha Love Organic)
6 ounces mango juice
3 ounces honey

Combine all ingredients and stir well until matcha is dissolved.

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