Tag Archives: cocktail

It’s Derby Time

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend. You know what that means… Mint Juleps. This year, Early Times Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby (even though Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon). There are a few Mint Julep recipes out there. The ingredients are all the same, but the mixing and ratios often vary. The ingredients are bourbon (of course), sugar, water (some recipes use simple syrup instead of sugar and water), mint and ice. I’m going to break down a few methods for you.

Advanced:
The official Early Times Mint Julep calls for 2oz. Bourbon, 1 tbsp simple syrup, 1 tbsp water, mint sprigs and crushed ice. What makes this one ‘advanced’ is the simple syrup is infused with mint. To make the simple syrup, boil 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Pour the simple syrup mixture over a bunch of of mint leaves. Gently crush the leaves into the mixture. Chill, strain, and chill some more.

Crush mint leaves into the bottom of an 8 oz glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp simple syrup (our mint infusion), 2 oz. bourbon and stir until frost forms on the glass. Garnish with mint.

A little easier:
If you can’t be bothered to make your own simple syrup, you can also muddle 2 tsp water with 2 tsp sugar and 6-8 mint sprigs. Add bourbon and ice and you are good to go.

For the truly lazy:
Early Times makes a premixed Mint Julep Cocktail. Serve it over ice with a mint garnish.

Some Trader Joe’s stores also carry simple syrup for a hybrid of the recipes above.

I’m not a big fan of Early Times bourbon, so I’ll be making my Juleps with Buffalo Trace this year. I recommend using something good but not very expensive. The flavors of the sugar and the mint complement the bourbon, but they do cover up some things. Do not waste the last of your Woodford Reserve Four Grain on one of these.

Drink well. Drink responsibly.
-Matt

Whisk(e)y And The Weaker(?) Sex

*NOTE: The title is only for alliteration not misogyny. Please, do not flood me with hate mail.

I have noticed a wonderful trend of late. Women who like whiskey. I personally have several female friends who can appreciate a good dram as much as anyone. Unfortunately, my wife is not one of them. Traditionally, whiskey is a harder sell than other hard liquor for women (if you have a significant other who likes beer, brats, and single malt Scotch you can quit reading). Once they try it, women are just as likely as men to enjoy whiskey. They are just less likely to give it a chance. So, how do you share your love of whiskey with your lady friend(s) if they are hesitant or uninitiated? It may sound sexist, but it is simple… cocktails (a topic that seems more than appropriate given Richard’s last blog).

Currently, the only way I can get my wife to drink whiskey is in a high ball (bourbon & ginger ale). I’ve tried making it with cheap stuff, but she prefers Four Roses Small Batch. What can I say? The lady knows good whiskey.

Unfortunately, it seems the art of whiskey cocktails has been lost to most bartenders (see the Jameson Whiskey Martini). Whiskey cocktails should compliment not disguise the whiskey. Instead of ordering a Jack and Coke, try an Old Fashioned (bourbon, sugar, bitters, an orange slice, and a cherry), a Whiskey Sour (the hard way or with a mix), or a Mint Julep (bourbon, sugar, and mint). If you have a savvy bar keep, you may be able to get a New Yorker (bourbon muddled w/ lime & a dash of grenadine) or Rusty Nail (Scotch, Drambuie & a lemon twist). If you find a cocktail you like, try it with different whiskeys.

The other way to introduce whiskey to any neophyte (regardless of sex) is to demonstrate the ritual of tasting (see FAQs for details). If they know that it is acceptable to add a little bit of water to temper the burn, they may be more willing to take the plunge.

Introducing whiskey to someone can be a challenge, but is usually very rewarding. Why else would we be whiskey apostles?

-Matt

The Jameson Whiskey Martini…

Last weekend I was out having dinner with my wife at our favorite Thai restaurant. When we sat down the waitress placed the menus in front of us and also their drinks menu. I don’t usually order more than the occasional glass of wine at this particular restaurant. It definitely has a 4J bar. However, this time the waitress put my drinks menu down upside down. I glanced down and saw something interesting. “Jameson Whisky Martini” it said. Aside from spelling it wrong (Irish whiskies are generally “whiskey” not “whisky”) the idea of a martini-like tipple made with Jameson piqued my interest so I ordered one.

About three minutes latter the waitress comes walking towards our table carrying a drink that could not possibly be mine. But in following Murphy’s Laws and a few of my own she set the drink right in front of me. My wife and I both just stared. For the love of God the thing was blue! I’m not entirely sure how you make a brown spirit turn blue but that’s what it was. Well, I paid for it and in the spirit of open mindedness I indulged in this aqua colored marvel.

Here’s what I tasted…

• Blue curacao
• Sweet & sour mix
• Peach schnapps
• Cherry syrup (I think)

Oh and there was a cherry floating in the bottom of the martini glass. You know what I didn’t taste? Jameson. I don’t really know how you call it a “Jameson Whiskey Martini” and not actually be able to taste any Jameson. And did I mention it was blue? Really? Blue?

I’m not sure whose idea it was to start replacing vodka with whiskey in cocktails but that just doesn’t cut it. Vodka and whiskey are too VERY different spirits and are in no way interchangeable. When you put vodka in a cocktail you really just want alcohol in what you’re drinking. When you’re working with a whiskey you want the cocktail components to compliment the spirit, not mask it. This blue wonder was a travesty to the Jameson name. It just goes to show that not all whiskey cocktails are created equal. Choose wisely my friends.

-Richard