Cinco de derby part 2 (See Part 1 Here)
This year, cinco de mayo is coinciding with derby day! Two drink posts, for the price of one! As I mentioned in my Margarita post, blogging can get tough when there are so many quality bloggers out there.
Michael Dietsch from A Dash of Bitters would put up a Julep post for Serious Eats that I would see and read between beginning to draft and posting. So, first, go read his stuff because he is a better cocktail blogger than I am (and likely ever shall be). Go. Read it. Come back.
Okay. A few things to remember before I go commenting on his post – A Julep is a kind of drink. It can be made with any kind of liquor. Yes, any kind of liquor. Bourbon is traditional in a mint julep because … well, because. Juleps were old medicinal concoctions that became good old fashioned (but not an Old Fashioned) cocktails. In the 1882 The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders’ Manual Bartenders Guide, it has recipes for a Champagne Julep (Pg. 40), Mint Julep (Pg. 41), Whiskey Julep (Pg. 52), and Gin Julep (Pg.74).
I like my bourbon in carefully controlled circumstances. If I am going to have a mint julep, then I want one of two kinds of bourbon – barrel strength or unusual. Look for Bakers or Bookers as examples of barrel strength or overproofed bourbon. I like the overproofed bourbon here because it doesn’t hide too much. You get some real alcohol heat and flavor in the beverage. Unusual? Keeping it in the Beam family this time, Basil Hayden.
To be honest, though, if I am using a whisk(e)y for Juleps, I am going to use rye. Sometimes the sweet of the bourbon plus the sweet of the simple syrup/sugar can be too sweet for me. One trick I overheard at the Seersucker Social on April 28th was using a few dashes of bitters to help calm the sweetness of the bourbon Julep.
Or, follow the 1882 Recipe for a Mint Julep and use Brandy. Yep. Brandy.
I really like the idea of making a mint syrup and then using a few fresh leaves for garnish. Muddling the mint can get messy and time consuming when you are making more than one. Go back to the above link where someone already wrote about this in the context of Mint Juleps.
Whatever you choose, enjoy derby day with a frosty Julep to keep your spirits high.