Grapefruit chai punch

Rooh, the newest upscale Indian restaurant to open in San Francisco, just made chai time endlessly more interesting.

In my family, chai time typically happens at the crack of dawn before breakfast and then again after an afternoon nap alongside some salty snacks. In India and at my in-law's house, it's always made super sweet and milky and has just the perfect amount of caffein to perk you up for the next few hours. But this isn't the type of chai I'm talking about here. Rooh's chai is a boozy punch made with black tea, tart house-made grapefruit shrub and a splash of whiskey. It's the chai you'll want to sip on for happy hour to keep you buzzed all night long.

According to Rooh's bartender, punch comes from the hindi word "panch", or five, which represents the five elements that come together to make this drink — booze, tea, bitter, sour and sweet. The British traditionally served chai punch in a tea cup, and prepared it either either hot or cold. I tried it both ways, and hot is definitely the way to go. Think of it as the Indian version of your hot toddy.  

Like the creative food at Rooh, the cocktail menu plays up all the amazing and familiar Indian flavors in unexpected ways, like a tequila drink made with beetroot shrub and an old-fashioned with ghee and mustard bourbon. All are based on Ayurveda’s six tastes — sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter. Here's the version you can make at home and cheers to Saturday afternoon well spent. 


1.5 ounces grapefruit shrub
3 ounces black tea
1 ounce lime juice
4 ounces Monkey Shoulder whisky


In a small sauce pot, combine the grapefruit shrub, black tea and lime juice. Over medium low, bring to a simmer, stirring, then remove from the heat.

Stir in the whisky. Strain into tea pot and serve.