fernet branca

Minty Dollar

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“Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure. Then comes the julep”

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Today marks the start of the Kentucky Derby. And that friends was my extent of Derby knowledge. I could have wiki’d something on the matter, pretended I can point to where Kentucky is on a map or perhaps looked for horse pictures on the internet but that wont end well. When does it ever? All I know is that this time of the year, people start drinking Mint Juleps (and random variations of the classic drink/remedy) like they’re going out of style while speaking in southern accents (Oh, just me? You’re no fun).

So what is a mint Julep and how is it a craft cocktail? If anything, this is one of those deceptive drinks that look simple but to really enjoy one like it was intended, it does require some proper technique. At its most basic, it’s bourbon, water, fire, heart! …With your powers combined, I am Capt– No ‘Planeteers’ in the crowd?! I judged my audience wrong. Again. So yeah, at its most basic level, a Mint Julep is Bourbon whiskey, water, sugar and mint. That’s it. But its getting all those pieces to work together is where the craft comes in.

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  • Kentucky bourbon
  • Fernet Branca
  • Absinthe
  • Simple sirup
  • mint leaves

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The sip should be fragrant, slightly sweet and depending on the bourbon you’re using, it would then take its charming characteristics. Delicious. No wonder people were drinking this shit as a remedy back in the day.

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Some folks like using mint-infused simple syrup and that’s probably the easiest and best way to get the great mint flavor combined but if you want to be a fancy southern belle (and who doesn’t?!), a silver cup is the way to go, and that calls for rubbing/muddling the mint around the borders of the cup.

I don’t own any silver (It’s not like I’m hunting werewolves or some shit) so I took a red ‘Dixie’ cup and painted it silver. Problem solved.

Here’s how I make a classic Mint Julep + my preferred version of one, which reduces the amount of Bourbon but adds Fernet Branca & a hint of absinthe.

The Mint Julep

2 1/2 oz Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1)
~10 mint leaves

Take the mint leaves in your hand and lightly rub them all around the inside of your cup.
Top up your cup with crushed ice.
Measure and pour the simple syrup over the ice.
Pour the bourbon over the ice in a circular motion to chill & dilute it as it reaches the bottom.
You’ll need to add a bit more crushed ice to the top, as in all likelihood it now looks like you dropped it.

The garnish being paramount in a Mint Julep, take a couple of the nicest mint sprigs you can find and slap them a bit before pinning them in the cup. Add a straw and you’re all set.

Minty Dollar

2 oz Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/8 oz St. George Absinthe Verte
~10 mint leaves

Take the mint leaves in your hand and lightly rub them all around the inside of your cup.
Fill your cup 3/4 of the way with crushed ice.
Measure and pour the bourbon, Fernet, absinthe and simple simple syrup into the cup.
Take a spoon and while holding the cup from the top, stir it in a fast up & down motion.
Now top up the cup with crushed ice to make it look nice and round.

Take a couple of the nicest mint sprigs you can find and slap them a bit before pinning them in the cup. Add a straw and done.

[ Enjoy ]

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With regards to ice, if you have an ice crusher, a) God bless you and b) Can I borrow it forever? If not, I find that a mallet and Lewis bag do the work just fine; With the added bonus of it being one hell of a stress relief.

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*Maker’s Mark generously provided the bourbon & julep cup for this post.

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The Architect

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This one’s for you, Tony. You classy ol’ fox.

I struggled making this cocktail at first. Which brings me to my first point: don’t force a drink. Sometimes they just need to be unceremoniously discarded and forgotten; Much like Lindsay Lohan. I got the idea for this one a little while back while getting some refreshments @ Drink (yes. I know I’ve talked about this place before but you wouldn’t shut up about that place either if you had a drink blog). I was alone that day, putting out the vibe*; Which is when I met the most regal 70 year old man. In the 2 hours that followed, we talked about 2 things: architecture & absinthe. He was even kind enough to draw me a diagram. Class act, that Tony.

So none of that info, or “a story of forbidden love” as I like to think of it, was pertinent to the actual drink except for the fact that it’s where it gets its name, along with its inclusion of absinthe. I would like to end this post saying that if he were to taste this, he would love it but that’s bullshit. In fact, I’m sure he would hate it and go back to Drink, only to burn it to the ground.

*the vibe: Raul standing uncomfortably in a room, sweating profusely and giving the distinct impression that he just strangled someone in the men's room.

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Absinthe
Ramazzotti
Fernet Branca
Bitters
salt

For the salt, I used Elana’s recipe from Stir and Strain for ‘vanilla salt‘. That site deserves way better than just a side note here (it’s been on my ‘Read‘ list since day 1) and you NEED to check it out (now) but I’ll have a full post dedicated to her site shortly.

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This is a stirred drink, served over ice.

1 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth  [ Cocchi Vermouth di Torino ]
1/4 oz Absinthe  [ St. George Absinthe Verte]
1/2 oz Ramazzotti amaro
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
8 drops Brooklyn Hemispherical Black Mission Fig bitters

Add all these guys into a mixing glass with ice and stir.

Add a large ice cube into a rocks glass and pour the cocktail around the cube.
Take a pinch (what’s less than a pinch? well that) and place it on top of the ice.
[ Enjoy ]

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