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How Blue Hill Makes Punch With Leftover Whey, Tea, and Beer

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For our event with American Express, Rescuing Dinner, we teamed up with Blue Hill Farm and City Harvest to share a wastED cocktail recipe. Stay tuned for next week's story on how we followed the event's meal from scraps to the table.

Yes whey.
Yes whey. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Drinks made with an egg white or cream are something to be expected when you're perusing the menu at a reputable cocktail bar. But with yogurt? Not so much. And yogurt whey? Never. But when you're a hyper farm-to-table restaurant like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and you're producing a boatload of yogurt whey, you need to get creative using it up.

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"We had the idea to do a whey-based cocktail as we were gearing up for wastED," Charles Puglia, wine director at Stone Barns, explains. (wastED is an initiative by Blue Hill, and its chef Dan Barber, to celebrate the ignored or uncoveted byproducts of the food system.) "We were producing quite a bit of yogurt, and while we have a lot of space, the freezer is quite small. And it gets packed."

More: We sent Dan Barber a box of our test kitchen scraps, and this is what he did with it.

While the concept was created by one of their longtime employees, Blue Hill's Whey Punch is inspired by classic punch recipes—scaled down to a cocktail portion. For this season's iteration, which they'll also be serving at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this winter, Charles wanted to really concentrate the flavors. When testing for the infused gin, they tried out several different teas, but settled on Earl Grey, which gave the drink the most complexity and interesting flavors. They use secondary-brew tea bags when they can, perhaps from making a big batch of iced tea the day before. And then comes the yogurt whey. If you're wondering, whey is the liquid that pools on top of store-bought yogurt. To make larger quantities of it, you can strain Greek yogurt with cheesecloth. (And you can also buy whey these days, like White Moustache's.)

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"Whey really gives you the mouthfeel and sense of creaminess—the lactic profile there," Charles says. He adds that the bergamot in the Earl Grey plays "beautifully with that creamy flavor, and goes particularly well with gin, a citrus-heavy spirit."

So what's with the beer syrup rather than the old simple standby? It provides a richness to the cocktail, Charles mentions, and takes the whole wastED theme and runs with it: They use beer that's leftover from wine pairings to make it—and if you're making this at home, you can use what you have leftover from a party.

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Blue Hill's Whey Punch

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Serves 1

For the Earl Grey tea-infused gin and beer syrup:

  • 15 used Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1 bottle gin (we used Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin)
  • Leftover flat beer
  • 1 to 2 ribbons orange zest
  • 1 splash vanilla extract
  • Sugar, to taste

For the whey punch:

  • 1 1/2 ounces Earl Grey tea-infused Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin
  • 1/2 ounce beer syrup
  • 1 ounce yogurt whey
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Gin Liqueur

In honor of the event Rescuing Dinner, American Express will make a donation to City Harvest, which pioneered food rescue in 1982 and has delivered over 545 million pounds of nutritious food to community food programs across New York City. To see more #RescuingDinner stories, follow along on American Express's Instagram and Twitter.

Tags: whey, eco-friendly, cocktails, blue hill, stone barns, new york, dan barber