The Summertime Smash

The Summertime Smash

Is it summer finally? Are we there yet, Mother Nature?

Up here in the tundra Montreal, the warm weather has been *such* a tease lately. We've had one of those springs where two days of delightful, sun-dappled, sleeve-shedding weather are followed by a near-week of chilly, damp, Debbie Downer-weather.

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The 1792 Kentucky White Dog Julep

So the Triple Crown wound up being a big bust this year. And even though the news is kinda bittersweet/poignant/ironic for us alkies who thought we'd finally found our spirit animal in a horse named I'll Have Another, it's no bigs. Let's keep sippin' juleps all the same. Let's just make 'em stiffer to take the edge off.

Came across this recipe from so-awesome-I-must-slay-him-in-order-to-become-him David Wondrich on Liquor.com and knew we had to try it. Have I ever done a white julep before? Wait... have I never done a white julep before?!? Where's my brain? (Blotto'd on moonshine, obvs.)

Not much to this recipe, but that's as it oughta be, I reckon. Moonshine ain't for fancy-ass pansies. In fact, I suspended a few of my usual julep rules (say that 10 times fast, then read up on what those time-tested rules are for making the World's Greatest Mint Julep here) to follow Wondrich's instructions quite close to the letter. For instance, I did without simple syrup or, better yet (to my mind), mint-infused simple syrup, and sweetened the drink only with granulated sugar and water, which is hard-core, colonial, old-school style. Wondrich says to stir the two together until the sugar's dissolved but I like to have a little granular action in there as it helps grind up the mint when you then muddle it in the sugar water. Take that, man I shall one day destroy.

The 1792 Kentucky White Dog Julep

(As seen on Liquor.com)

2 to 3 ounces Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey

1/2 ounce water

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

6 to 8 mint leaves, plus a sprig to garnish

Stir sugar and water together in highball glass until dissolved. Add leaves, muddle slightly. Pack highball glass with crushed ice, then add whiskey. Stir, add more ice to fill, garnish with mint sprig.

Tasting Notes

As published, Wondrich's recipe calls for any white whiskey that can be called "unaged corn or rye." My much-cherished Georgia Moon is the former. Use a corn whiskey and it'll be a significantly sweeter drink; in fact, it tasted like summery corn on the cob in a way.

Sean was apparently feeling Wondrich-frisky as well when he helped assemble this drink. As you can see by the pics he took, he chose to eschew Wondrich's suggestion of a highball glass and instead poured it into a redneck-apropos Mason jar. (A teeny one at that.)

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The Prescription Julep

OK, OK, some of y'all are probably thinking, Enough with the juleps!

And then there are folks like me, who simply cannot have enough julep recipes at their disposal. I collect julep recipes like I used to collect Smurf figurines. Srsly, how you can possibly have enough deliciousness at your fingertips?

Why this particular recipe (which dates back to the 1850s and was recently written about by David Wondrich in his book Imbibe!)? Because by combining rye whiskey and brandy, it offers you a way to appropriate the grainy sweetness of bourbon when you haven't got any bourbon handy. It's a cocktail hack!

And speaking of deliciousness, Wondrich claims this recipe turns out an even better julep than a classic bourbon one. Ahem, ahem, Mr. Wondrich... bite your tongue.

The Prescription Julep

(with thanks to Serious Eats for passing along the original version)

1 1/2 ounces Remy Martin

1/2 ounce Old Overholt rye whiskey

1/2 ounce simple syrup

A few mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

Drop mint leaves into bottom of julep cup or Collins glass. Cover with simple syrup and muddle. Add ice to fill, then add brandy and rye. Stir briskly. Garnish with sprig.

Tasting Notes

The original recipe calls for two teaspoons of sugar dissolved in a half-ounce of water -- call this simple syrup if you want. It also calls for muddling the sugar/water combo in the bottom of the glass. No offense 1850s, but I own a microwave. I make simple syrup.

 

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The Champagne Julep

I haven't told you yet how I spent my New Year's Eve, have I? Silly me. You're likely kvetching to know what a pretend professional drinker does on Alcoholics' Feast Day. (It's in the Bible, look it up.)

Our evening began early-ish, in the five o'clock hour (it's not just a blog, it's a thing you can do!), with the best pizza in the world and a list of champagne cocktails to make. Earlier, we'd picked up a cheapo bottle of bubbles, and of course to get every penny's worth of the $9.97 you just spent on lowercase-c champagne so embarrassingly embarrassing that I refuse to even mention it by name here, you have to plan for several fizzy drinks at once.

The recipe for this Champagne Julep came out of a cocktail book -- one of the several belonging to Sean's cousins, with whom we crashed over the holidays; it's a whole family of drinkers (what can I say, I know how to pick first husbands) -- but I wish that weren't the case. Because if ever there were a person put on Earth for the purpose of whimsy-ing up a recipe like this off the top of her dainty, demented head, it is me. Dammit, the Champagne Julep should dance nightly in my dreams. "Champagne Julep concocter" is what my tombstone should one day read, except with one word misspelled and no money left in my estate to fix it. Has the past year and change instilled not one inkling in me towards total julep brilliance?

Credit, though: It's a damn good recipe. Simple to the point of self-evident, as any worthwhile julep recipe oughta be. The resulting drink likewise reads organically on the palate. Picture in your mind what a fizzy mint julep might taste like, and so it does. Tastes fun, no?

The Champagne Julep

(From The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks: More Than 1000 Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Cocktails, by Anthony Dias Blue, with some adjustments and finesses)

About 3 ounces Champagne or sparkling white wine

1 1/2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon

4 large mint leaves

1/2 to 1 teaspoon simple syrup (to taste)

Crushed ice

Bunch the mint leaves between thumb and forefinger and give one good tear through the middle of the leaves. Drop into bottom of a tall Collins glass and pour in simple syrup on top, just enough to cover leaves. Muddle well. Add ice roughly to fill glass. Pour in bourbon. Stir very briefly. If necessary/desired, put in more ice at this step to refill to top. Top off with Champagne. Once again, stir briefly. Taste and top off with more simple syrup if desired. Garnish with mint sprig.

Tasting Notes

Obviously, use the best bubbly you can afford. Also, if you're going to go with a wheated (i.e. sweeter) bourbon like Buffalo Trace or Maker's Mark, I'd recommend yin-yanging with a dry champagne. On the flip side, I bet this would taste great with a rye whiskey and a sweet sparkler.

I go into more detail about my little physical tricks I use to properly mix a julep in my World's Greatest Mint Julep post, if you care to read it. Basically, although here I suggest stirring briefly to agitate the drink, my most preferred method of mixing a julep is to make little downward stabbing motions in the glass with a swizzle stick.

I also advocate taking your mint sprig by the stem in one hand and giving it a few smacks against the open palm of your other hand. You'll see this done at high-end cocktail places a lot; it's great for releasing the leaves' aroma.

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The Ghetto Julep

You know that month and change earlier this summer (it's still summer, right? Cuz in Montreal it kinda no longer is) when I wasn't blogging? Becuz I was moving? Out of the country? Well, during the first couple weeks post-move -- when Montreal's August air hovered around a blissful 74-degrees-Fahrenheit-(eff-this-Celsius-shiz-up-here)-and-breezy -- Sean and I often retreated to our blacktopped backyard for five o'clock cocktail hour. (It's not just a blog; it's a thing you can do!)

And during those first couple weeks, when boxes were still in the unpacking and Francophone grocery stores still scurred me a bit, I got into the habit of doing something that I chafe to admit to you good people... I made a lot of Ghetto Juleps.

You all know that I rilly rilly fancy bourbon and that I've made it my business to tour a lot of whiskey distilleries and that I consider the making of a true mint julep a devout and hallowed endeavor. What I don't think you know is that on one of my distillery visits, I bought at the gift shop a bottle of Old Honey Barn Kentucky Mint Julep Mixer. I bought high fructose corn syrup and green food coloring because the bottle looked cute. (*shame*)

But honestly, I never cracked the seal on that bottle until Montreal, until just last month. I finally did that because I felt like a julep but didn't have any fresh mint in the house, and I didn't know the exact-right way to ask for some at the store. Avez-vous menthe? Avez-vous la menthe? De la menthe? Some days here I get exhausted debating prepositions in my head.

So yes, I used the mixer. I made a Ghetto Julep, and it was so good I started making many of them.

If we can no longer be friends, I understand, but I must own up and repeat once more: Ghetto Juleps are yummy! They're fun the way a Big Mac or Gummi Bears are fun. They are the Legally Blonde of juleps -- dumb and silly and oh goodie look what's on TBS!

I won't tell anyone if you make one.

The Ghetto Julep

3 ounces bourbon

1 teaspoon Old Honey Barn Kentucky Mint Julep Mixer

Pour mint julep mixer into bottom of highball glass. Top with ice cubes that you have not bothered to crush. Pour in bourbon. Stir the shame and guilt away briskly.

Tasting Notes

I didn't specify what kind of bourbon to use in your Ghetto Julep. I mean, honestly, does it really matter? Screw it, make yourself a bourbon blend right there in your highball.

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