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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