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| Booze |

Summer Sizzle: Sweet Tea Vodkas

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It only makes sense that June, with its rising humidity, would be National Iced Tea Month. Whether you're lazing on the beach, grabbing lunch with a buddy or relaxing at home, summer life just seems calmer when you've got a tall tumbler of iced tea, garnished with a sun-colored wedge of lemon. Unfussy, tranquil and seriously satisfying, it's no wonder the drink is almost synonymous with hospitality.

Legend has it that iced tea was born at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. A gentleman by the name of Richard Blechynden was hawking hot tea -- but because there was a heat wave, not one damned fool wanted any. So the wise businessman added some ice and raked in the profits. Blechynden, of course, would have no idea that his sociable drink would become just another base for alcohol consumption a full century later. Indeed, sweet tea vodkas are booming these days. And it makes sense: Iced tea has been in our genes for ages; now it can be in our livers, too. Here are our two favorites, both available at Spec's.

Firefly Firefly is the original sweet tea vodka, started in South Carolina in 2008. The tea is grown five miles from the distillery, and the sugar cane comes from Louisiana. With its deep amber color, it sure looks just like the sun tea my granddaddy used to make -- but tastes entirely different. Firefly has grown steadily in its two-year existence, even adding new flavors of teas with hints of raspberry, peach, mint and lemon. The vodka has a bittersweet flavor with a biting edge, thus it tastes best mixed with lemonade or club soda and a simple syrup for added sweetness.

Deep Eddy Deep Eddy is a new offering that's entirely Texas-based. You might recognize the name as the semi-famous swimming hole outside of Austin, but the drink version is made from Texas tea that's brewed with mineral-rich Texas spring water and sweetened with Sugar Land sugar and a drop of Texas clover honey. Deep Eddy is smoother and slightly sweeter than Firefly; it tastes great mixed with good ole' iced tea, Sprite, or any number of mixing options. We prefer Deep Eddy to Firefly, not only because of its smooth flavor, but also its local heritage. Yeehaw!

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