Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Best Mint Julep You Will Ever Taste.

I love cocktails, but my favorite cocktail is the mint julep. Just sugar, mint, and bourbon - it's simple, it's delicious, it's brilliant, I wish I had thought of it myself. I used to angst over the perfect recipe for a mint julep - what kind of sugar? how much mint? what ratio of sugar to bourbon? - because I pride myself on making the best cocktails, and if I'm going to claim the mint julep as my favorite I should be able to make a damn good one. Right? But then I convinced one of the bartenders at the Anvil, my favorite local bar, to tell me their recipe for a mint julep. And then I stopped worrying, because this is the best mint julep you will ever taste.

The secret to its deliciousness is the 2:1 turbinado syrup. That means simple syrup, made with turbinado sugar, in a 2:1 sugar to water ratio. This stuff is lovely and thick and really delicious. If you have some left after making mint juleps, you can just eat it. I will not blame you.

How To Make the Best Damn Mint Julep Ever
2 oz bourbon
2 barspoons (teaspoons) 2:1 turbinado simple syrup
some mint (spearmint, from the backyard!)
oh, and crushed ice

Cover the bottom of an old-fashioned glass (or a silver julep cup, if you're all fancy) with a layer of mint leaves. Heck, make it a double layer if you really like mint. Pour the simple syrup on top of the mint and muddle it all real good. Then fill the glass with crushed ice. Then add the bourbon. Then stir. Then drink.

Bonus, because I like you: here's a video of New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian discussing the history and significance of the mint julep. His voice alone is a national treasure, but you'll want to watch because of the 'little bit of prose,' dating back to 1880, that he recites as he makes the drink. It begins like this: "Then comes the zenith of man's pleasure, then comes the julep, the mint julep. Who has not tasted one has lived in vain." Amen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons... Make Whiskey Sours.

My wonderful, teetotaling Baptist parents have a Meyer Lemon tree. It lives in a pot in the backyard and is mostly neglected, except for the occasional watering, but somehow that thing is just lousy with lemons. While my precious, coddled pink lemon tree this year produced... three lemons. But I don't mind their gardening triumph so much because, of course, they shared with me. ("Don't tell me what you are going to do with those," my mother said.) I thought briefly about making a pie, but I hardly ever cook, or even bake, and I don't even like pie. So instead I made a whiskey sour.

This whiskey sour is just a little bit more specialer than your average whiskey sour. Even if you don't have gardening parents, you can hunt down some Meyer Lemons at the grocery store when they're in season. (A Meyer Lemon is a cross between a traditional lemon and an orange, and is therefore a bit sweeter than the Eureka lemons you're used to.) The drink also makes use of a simple syrup made with turbinado sugar - the ratio of sugar to water here is 1 to 1. I like to use an overproof rye (like Rittenhouse) for this, but feel free to use whatever you've got around. I promise it'll still be delicious.

Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour
1 oz Meyer Lemon juice (fresh squeezed, duh)
.5 oz turbinado simple syrup (1:1)
2 oz rye whiskey (overproof if you're a badass like me)

Shake (over ice) and strain into a glass. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lafayette Cocktail.

So it is Mardi Gras, the part of the show where good Catholics party it up before the season of sobriety that is Lent. In celebration of the day, and of my (sort of) Cajun heritage, I bring you the Lafayette, a cocktail named in honor of the town that I was born in. If the Lafayette looks a little familiar, it's because it's really just an original Hurricane, made with extra-molassesy Black Strap rum. The rum is what takes this drink to the next level. It's sweet, and rich, and dark. And looks like pond scum. But don't let that deter you.

The Lafayette Cocktail
2 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 oz Passionfruit Syrup (this stuff can be a real bitch to find - get it on Amazon.)

Shake all ingredients over ice. Then pour them into a highball glass with ice, or whatever floats your boat. Then laissez les bons temps rouler.