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Wednesday Food: Garden Cocktails, Bulleit Bourbon

This week for my birthday I received 3 cards from my immediate family all which featured beer on the cover.  It occurred to me that my exploration of drinks desperately needs broadening.  For 2012 I’ve decided to think outside the beer box and throw myself into cocktails (if only that were literal) and wine. Because wine is the single beverage I understand the least, however much I love it, I’ll begin with cocktails.

Mixed drinks can be divided by alcohol, presentation, era of origin– any host of categories.  As I’m making an effort to work more out of the garden I’ll present cocktails featuring an element that I personally grew.

Our first cocktail: the mint julep.  Normally this smooth drink doesn’t debut until Derby Day, but I had some Bulleit Bourbon leftover from New Year’s, fresh mint growing in the garden, and an afternoon high today of 86 degrees.

Mint juleps consist of Kentucky Bourbon, fresh mint leaves, fine sugar, crushed ice, and usually club soda.  There are competing methods for preparation but the most typical begins by muddling 6-10 mint leaves (depending on size) with a few teaspoons of fine sugar and a splash of club soda.  Some say the mint leaves should be aggressively muddled but I don’t like bits of mint leaf clogging my straw so I just press the leaves enough to break up the plant cells which release oils. You then add 2-3 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon, and fill the glass with crushed ice– if the ice is broken up it dilutes the strength of the drink.  It can be altered to taste but this standard method, where you enjoy from the glass or have a low straw to get a close up of the mint, introduces a refreshing and invigorating twist to a favorite bourbon.  This guy seems to know what’s up.

On New Year’s Eve this year I was in the company of a few people who had begun infusing their own liquors and who were making remarkably inventive drinks.  Have you noticed the “artisan cocktail” trend outside of bars and restaurants? HAS IT INFILTRATED A HOME NEAR YOU? Are you even a fan of drinking hard liquor?

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January 4, 2012 - Posted by | Wednesday Food

2 Comments

  1. New Year’s Eve my friend Liz was pushing her “Ward Ocho”, a Ward 8 with jalapeño simple syrup. Yum. I tend to take my whiskies neat, but we keep three bitterses in stock (Angostura, Peychaud’s, something chocolate-chili) and I have half a dozen friends who like to entertain with “artisan cocktails,” keep impressive bars, and are quick to juice a grapefruit or what have you.

    I myself drink much more hard liquor than beer, probably even by volume. I make an all right Sazerac (though since NYE did away with my absinthe bottle I may try something else next).

    Bulleit also makes a great-value rye, which I generally prefer to bourbon & Tennessee whiskey.

    I applaud this development! And the mason jar is a nice touch.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | January 4, 2012

  2. Wow that sounds so refreshing! I find pepper infusions pretty irresistible. My sister and I have been dying to refurbish a bar cart, but we never manage to put down the initial investment to cover all the basics of booze, let alone get into the nice stuff. Yet we happily throw down $18 an a rare beer– strange priorities.

    I love the Bulleit Rye, and find that everything from that distillery is above average quality for the cost level, and you can even buy it at Trader Joe’s. You’ll have to teach me, or the Weblog how to make one of your Sazeracs!

    Comment by ebolden | January 5, 2012


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