88. Mint Julep

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In case you hadn’t noticed (since the first recipe was #125), I am indeed skipping around a bit. This is partially due to the availability of ingredients, and partially because I don’t necessarily want to be making punch after punch after punch, and then julep after julep after julep. What is an effective categorization method in a book is not the most fun in the kitchen.

So for this one I wanted something I had heard of before. Was this first version a classic Mint Julep? Short answer: no. It’s pretty different, except for shaved ice and mint, but is a really nice drink on its own. Score another one for Jerry Thomas.

In other news, the U.S. Mint recently announced the national parks that will be on this year’s America the Beautiful (read: fancy) quarters: Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument) in South Carolina. The first will be on shelves (in wallets? What do you say?) on February 8th. Riveting news, I know.

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88. Mint Julep

(Use large bar glass.)

  • 1 table-spoonful of white pulverized sugar. [Powdered sugar.]
  • 2½ do. water, mix well with a spoon. [do. is “Ditto” in ye olden days.]
  • Take three or four sprigs of fresh mint, and press them well in the sugar and water, until the flavor of the mint is extracted; add one and a half wine-glass [3 oz.] of Cognac brandy, and fill the glass with fine shaved ice, then draw out the sprigs of mint and insert them in the ice with the stems downward, so that the leaves will be above, in the shape of a bouquet; arrange berries, and small pieces of sliced orange on top in a tasty manner, dash with Jamaica rum, [I took this to mean dark rum] and sprinkle white sugar on top. Place a straw as represented in the cut, [I didn’t have a straw, but we’re getting some! By “in the cut” he means the image on that first Jerry Thomas post, which appears to just be in the drink. Not sure where else you’d put it.] and you have a julep that is fit for an emperor.

Fit for an emperor, eh? Pretty cool. Apart from the spirit choice (brandy instead of whisky), this started out like a pretty classic julep, but then he just goes crazy and adds all sorts of things to it. Only modifications I made (besides no straw) were to use new mint sprigs for the garnish because the muddled ones were kind of gross-looking.

Mint Julep Prep

Tasting Notes:

BN: I found it interesting that he didn’t use whisky, as that is a pretty common spirit back then — but I guess that wasn’t how he heard about the drink. I’ll look into when that switch occurred. The addition of the fruit and rum was really delicious though, especially the citrus — it gave it a lot more depth than I’m used to in a simply sweet and minty julep. I wanted a little more mint flavor but I should have just muddled more. I also liked the ombre (PiC is proud of my vocabulary) effect that was made when the rum was added to the top – dark rum to orange brandy to green sugar-mint water.

PiC: A little alcoholic for me, but i like it. Even making it a little sweeter would be good. I especially like eating a raspberry off the top and then taking a sip.

The Starting Pistol – The Kentucky Derby

A fitting title for a first post, really. Welcome to the Boozy Newsie! I’m your host, the Boozy Newsie (bet you didn’t see that coming, did you). This blog has one purpose, and one purpose only, which is: drinking. Drinking disguised as artistry, experimentation, and relevance. I’ll be making drinks based on something or other that’s happened or is happening, whether a news story or a holiday or a sporting event. So go ahead, toast to current events! Keep watching this space for new and inventive cocktails, ranging from basic to overly complex, depending on how fancy I decide to pretend to be on any particular day. I want to have fun playing with alcohol (and drinking it afterwards), and you can follow my progress in this space.

So where do we start? Where else but the Kentucky Derby! A horse race that got its start in 1875, it’s the time when everyone decides they know something about odds and thoroughbreds and the hand height of horses. They wear fancy hats and put money down and cheer when animals with crazily stupid names beat other animals with even stupider names. My favorite? I’ll Have Another, who won in ’12. A horse after my own heart.

Speaking of which, on to the alcohol. As you might know, the classic Kentucky Derby drink is a mint julep, served ice cold in a frosted tin mug, and you sip between drags on your pipe, adjusting your bolo tie, and fending off would-be admirers who keep calling you “The Colonel.”

This year, I decided to start it off with a variation on the classic that I’m calling the Starting Pistol. It’s a little fruitier than the original, and has a little more interesting spice to it.

Starter's Pistol Ingredients

The Starter’s Pistol

  • 2 1/2 oz bourbon (I use Woodford Reserve, but any will do. Except Jack Daniel’s.)
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 6-10 mint leaves
  • 3 strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 7 shakes of Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
  • lime juice to taste

The Finished ProductThe preparation is essentially “put it all in a glass.” Mix the water and sugar in the bottom of a rocks glass, effectively making a quick simple syrup. Then, muddle in the mint leaves and strawberries. Smash ’em up real good. Then pour in the bourbon and the bitters, and finally get some ice in there too. Stir it up to make sure everything’s mixed, and you can top it with lime juice (I forgot this, and it still tasted pretty good), and some more mint and a strawberry (slice a thin wedge out of it and stick it on the side of the glass) for a garnish.

And voila! Now you can accompany your random horse bets with a little alcohol — because that always helps decisions!

Tasting Notes (provided by yours truly and my trusty assistant/partner in crime):

BN: This was a little less flavored than I was hoping; you could definitely tell the cardamom was in there, and it added a lot, but despite the massive pile of mush at the bottom of the glass, I was missing the strawberry and mint flavors. It could have been, in part, that it was hard to swirl around the mash once the ice was in the glass, preventing too much spreading of the ingredients. Still, it was a nice refreshing experiment, and it certainly looks nice.

Partner in Crime: This was pretty strong, so if you like that sort of thing, it’s probably pretty good. I don’t, so I mostly just tasted the whiskey…

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