It’s Derby time once again. Now, this won’t be the first time I’ve discussed the Mint Julep, and certainly won’t be the last. It’s such an iconic and classic drink, in some cases argued to pre-date the cocktail. I plan on enjoying a few of them today, and here’s one variation in particular. I came up with this Julep for a recent competition here in Portland, hosted by Maker’s Mark. It didn’t win the contest, but it did win on the palates of a number of the attendees. I think it’s pretty darn swell myself.
- 6-8 Kentucky Julep Spearmint Leaves
- 2 small chunks pineapple
- 1/2 oz Small Hand Pineapple Gum Syrup
- 1/4 oz Allspice Dram
- 6 drops Herbsaint Original
- dash Angostura bitters
- 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
In a 10 oz collins glass, muddle mint, pineapple, pineapple gum and allspice dram briefly and gently. Release the oils but don’t break the mint too harshly. Top with crushed ice to 3/4 of the glass, add Bourbon. Stir or swizzle until a frost begins to form on the glass, and top with more crushed ice until the glass is overflowing with ice. Garnish with a leafy mint sprig and pineapple wedge.
The drink’s name is King Julep as the pineapple is known as the King of fruits. Inspiration for the drink comes from my want to put a tropical spin on the classic Julep. Now, this might also play well with an aged Rhum Agricole, or strong Jamaican rum such as Smith & Cross, but I find the Maker’s Mark added an interesting nuttiness to the drink that played well with the sweetness of the pineapple gum. The Allspice dram, well, that’s just fun. I also utilized the 1-2 punch of bitters and herbsaint to add complexity, using the new formulation of Herbsaint, which I find enhances the mintiness of the concoction, which can get muddled amidst the other flavors.
All bets are in, hope you enjoy your own Derby Day!
I just got back from what has to have been one of the best experiences I have ever had, the Grand Marnier Mixology Summit.
Before I really hunker down and talk about it, I’d thought I’d share one of the drinks I submitted, and made for my consulting lab, the Sweet Ron Swizzle. This drinks takes a few classic pairings (Herbsaint:Bitters, Orgeat: Rum), and adds a touch of Navan to really drive the Vanilla out of the rest of the ingredients. Little did I know going into the lab that the Navan formula had recently changed to make it a bit drier. The good news is, it made the drink better! There are a lot of sweet ingredients in here, and the drier Navan and a heavy hand of citrus really help to drive the flavor. I like it, I hope you do too.
Sweet Ron Swizzle
- 2 oz Ron Matusalem 15
- 1 oz Lemon Juice
- ½ oz Maple Syrup
- ½ oz Orgeat
- ½ oz Navan
- 2 dash Angostura Bitters
- 4 drops Pastis
Build all ingredients with crushed ice. Swizzle with Lele Stick or bar spoon. Garnish with a ridiculously long Orange Spiral.
Oh, and here’s something fun for you iphone fanatics out there, the GM Cocktails app (link goes to app store). This little doozy of an app contains all of the winning recipes submitted for the Grand Marnier Mixology Summit. All of my drinks are in there, and there are a ton of great drinks from all over North America (and occassionally beyond).
This is the first of the four runners up of the Forbidden Island Cocktail Contest, Corpse Canonizer, by Kevin aka Paranoid123! This drink is on the specials menu at Forbidden Island from now through November! This one’s a real lipsmacker. It starts off spicy, then moves into the florals of the gin and St. Germain. I’m wide awake after this one, and will certainly be back for another. Cheers to the runner up!
- 3/4 oz Martin Miller Westbourne Strength Gin
- 3/4 oz Orange Curacao
- 3/4 oz St Germain
- 3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- dash Herbsaint
- dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with Lemon twist
When celebrating Don the Beachcomber’s legacy, or his recent birthday (Feb. 22d), what better way to remember the man than through his signature 1-2 punch of Bitters and Pastis (Herbsaint preferred, Pernod in a pinch), and the drink I think really brings it out best, the Test Pilot.
The bitters/pastis combination adds a lot of complexity and roundedness to the drink. Pastis, Herbsaint in particular (drop the R, rearrange the letters to find the origin), in small amounts, adds the strange sweetness of anise, while extending the life of the flavor. For my palate, it’s almost like an envelope, wrapping a bit around the rest of the flavors, keeping them together. The bitters, in this case Angostura, gives a nice spicy start and clove and sarsaparilla-like depth to the drink. Combined, the two are a bit of a circle and spike to the drink, if I can be allowed to make such a visual example of the taste.
The Test Pilot, according to the Grog Log, is by Don the Beachcomber circa 1941, and for my money, is one of the top examples of Don’s mastery of mixology.
Test Pilot (source Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log)
- 1/2 ounce Lime
- 1/2 ounce Falernum
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau (3 tsp in Grog Log, same measurement)
- 3/4 ounce Light Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Cristal recommended)
- 1 1/2 ounce Dark Jamaican Rum (Coruba recommended)
- dash Bitters
- dash Herbsaint
Mix/Blend with 1 cup crushed ice, pour into Double Rocks glass. Add crushed ice to fill.
One thing I notice while making this drink is that it really makes the falernum shine. Using more of a sweetening falernum, like Velvet Falernum, makes a very good drink, but using a spicy homemade, like Paul’s Falernum #8 really brings out all the spice and complexity the drink has to offer. My last batch of Falernum, similar to Paul’s but double the spice, and adding one whole star anise, comes heavily and heartily recommended.
And of course, this will be on the menu for the March 18th Tiki Third Tuesday at Teardrop Lounge! Shameless self-promotion? You got it!