Chai Town

f a chai latte is something you order in line at the local coffee shop before rushing out the door, let me fill you in on a new—and more pleasurable—way to enjoy those spicy, comforting flavors.

The chai latte is a featured cocktail at the Tornado Steak House. Manager Mel Trudeau and bar manager Rick Vanderheite developed the drink when they began infusing their own vodkas with fruits, herbs and spices two years ago.

The cocktail is satisfying yet balanced. Cream tempers the spice of the chai and bite of the vodka (Trudeau prefers Rishi tea and premium vodka for flavor and smoothness). The chai latte has proved popular at the Tornado and was even featured in the book Food & Wine Cocktails 2007.

Personally, I can think of nothing nicer than holing up in a cozy booth and sipping one while the wind howls outside.

RECIPE: Chai Latte

Ice3 oz chai vodka (see recipe below)1 oz heavy cream3/4 oz simple syrup 1/4 oz dark chocolate liqueur

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice; add chai vodka, cream and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Drizzle with chocolate liqueur.

Chai Vodka: In a jar, combine 8 oz vodka with 2 tbsp loose chai tea. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes, then strain through a coffee filter into an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to three weeks. Makes 8 oz.

Recipe courtesy of the Tornado Steak House, 116 S. Hamilton St., 256-3570,

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.