fernet

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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Silver & Gold: The lost MxMo

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I missed the last MxMo and had come up with a recipe which utilizes gold cherries (Rainier I believe is the legit name) that I didn’t want to go to waste. I’ve made a few of them now and I can confidently say that it works with most fruit currently in season if cherries aren’t your thing.

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If you think that mint julep’s are only made for the Kentucky Derby season, I will fight you. I will also most likely lose due to being deceptively weak for my size. Juleps are delicious and I don’t know why I haven’t posted one before. They’re super old school in that they’re one of those types that can be messed around with a great deal and you’d still know what it is. The important thing is to not fuck them up by how you make one (or 10). If you asked me what the most important part of any mint julep is, I’d probably say ‘technique’ (and then you’d roll your eyes at my pretentiousness). Even though I do think the quality of the spirits used in any drink is important, sometimes how that cocktail is made can be a deciding factor in making it great.

Story time: I like to shop @ Etsy. So what? Well, the problem is I kinda suck at it. So I purchased a set of silver plated cups a few weeks back thinking they were gonna be proverbially sweet. Well…About that: they were tiny. I mean, these things are good for Peter Dinklage to drink out of. They’re pretty though, so I’ll use them for making tiny-wittle-drinks for myself when no one’s around.

If you were wondering about the name, it came from me being bamboozled into buying “golden cherries” at the market, along with incorporating silver (blanco) tequila and my puny little silver cup.

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  • Espolon blanco tequila
  • Aperol
  • Fernet Branca
  • Woodford’s Reserve spiced cherry bitters
  • mint
  • rainier cherries

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You’re gonna need to fight your instincts of muddling the mint in the mixing tin. Trust me. A mint julep is built in the serving tin (or glass) and you’ll want to muddle it there to preserve all the flavor and aroma.

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This is a fun drink to make and it just smells lovely; If you like mint. If you don’t, who are you?? 

We’ll make this drink in 3 steps:

Take a NICE sprig of mint (as seen above) and lightly muddle them into the tin or glass you’re going to serve the drink in. Make sure you rub the entirety of the inside with the mint, then discard it. 

4 rainier cherries (pitted). muddle them in the shaker.
add 1 1/2 oz of tequila
Add 3/4 oz of Aperol
Add 2 dashes of the spiced cherry bitters
Add 2 barspoons of simple syrup
Add a BIG chunk of ice and shake (the idea is to dilute as least as possible).

Add crushed ice to the serving tin with the mint about half way.
Strain the mixing tin’s contents into it.
With a barspoon or a swizzle, stir it a bit in a fast, upwards motion.
Top up with more crushed ice. 
Drizzle ~1/4 oz of Fernet on top.
Garnish with the other sprig of mint. 

[ Enjoy ]

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“crush it around the borders of the glass and leave no place untouched. Then throw the mint away—it is a sacrifice.” – From the Old Receipt of Soule Smith

I’m fairly certain I’ve talked about Chris Mcmillian before on the blog or twitter or in my dreams, I don’t know. But you should definitely check this post from The Museum of the American Cocktail.

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Blog Stalker: Stir and Strain

Lets try something a bit different and see how it goes…

So there’s all this great content online, just brimming with new ideas and inspiration; Content that I view and take cues from as to what to do, what NOT to do and more importantly, how to create my own content without simply regurgitating someone else’s hard work and slapping a new coat of paint on it. That shit’s hard to do. But I wouldnt put the effort I do into my own li’l site if I didnt think it could be done. For the most part.

So once a month (for now), I’ll be showcasing a blog or site that I believe is of value, purpose and/or stunning design. I’ll kiss their butt a bit in the form of a poor description and then I’ll mix a few of their drinks exactly as noted or (let’s be honest here) as close to them as possible.

Up first on the chopping block: StirandStrain.com

Full disclosure: I almost didn’t start my own site because of this gorgeous blog. I wanted to make something pretty, with fun banter and great taste in cocktails, then I find this site (how I don’t remember) and I decided only to move forward with mine because she doesn’t drop enough F bombs. Elana (who is a pretty rad human being from what I can tell by following her on instagram/twitter) runs that shrine to mixology and so fucking jealous photography. I think she saved some ferrets from a burning building in Rhode Island once too. I cant recall. If you don’t know this site but for some reason know mine, get on it quick. The drinks pack a punch, the writing is fun and inviting (like what you’d find in 50 Shades of Grey) and the photos will melt your face.

So now that we got the formalities out of the way, lets move onto the stirandstrain.com drinks:

Aviation [ Elana’s variation on the classic ]

This is a cool one to show Elana’s variations on what’s out there and how changing something small can produce a welcomed new addition to the seemingly old and familiar. I mainly wanted to try this one since I too am not a fan of the OG Aviation cocktail. 

Aviation

aviation_ing

Recipe HERE 

Eagle Rock [  go easy on these ]

Look at that list of ingredients. Mmmm. Tho I will admit I liked it a bit more with 10 yr. Bulleit Bourbon. I cant recall how many of these I’ve made since. 

Eagle_Rock

Eagle_rock_ing

Recipe HERE

These are just a couple of cocktails I bastardized from her site, but maybe you can give them a more faithful representation in your bar. I’m certain stirandstrain.com will quickly climb your cocktail reading list (if not already) and promptly make you a fan. Just like me.

[ enjoy ]

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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Black Flag

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-Insert clever Henry Rollins joke here-

I infused Cognac because I don’t care much for it. In fact, I infused about 1/2 a bottle of Courvoisier that I got for Christmas yet had never really used other than to show people that French is not only difficult to pronounce but even harder to spell. I’m sure I’ll be infusing other spirits soon (looking @ you, bottle of Knob Creek bourbon) based on this experiment. Vanilla beans. Herbs. Buffalo chicken wings. You name it; I’ll be on it.

I didn’t infuse an entire bottle because I wasn’t sure what the result would be, nor if I would want 750 ml of black tea infused cognac (which came out pretty great), so I only infused about 10 oz of it. Will I be making more? Definitely. But I think I’ll use a different brand of cognac next time or may just switch to Brandy altogether. The name comes from the black tea and the black mission fig bitters from Brooklyn Bitters . I was originally going to call it “Fuck, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing here and this drink is strong. Oh god its so strong” but opted against it at the last minute. Maybe next time?

So here’s a booze-only drink (one of many to follow) for those that like a good cocktail with depth and variety.

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Tea infused Cognac
Benedictine
Fernet Branca
Dry vermouth
Bitters
Demerara simple

I used Dolin Dry here (after testing Lillet Blanc and Martini dry) and felt that it worked much better than sweet vermouth (Dolin Rouge) which would make it more Vieux Carre in nature and a bit sweeter.

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1 1/2 oz Bavarian Berry black tea infused Courvoisier cognac*
3/4 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Dolin Dry vermouth
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
10 drops Brooklyn Hemispherical Black Mission Fig bitters
Couple dashes of demerara simple

*To infuse the cognac: take a single serving of your favorite black tea (I used Bavarian Berry Black, which is nice and bright with little hints of fruit) and steep it in a separate glass bottle with about 8 oz of cognac (or technically any spirit) for about 12-24 hours. Fine strain it into yet another bottle to remove any and all leaves and sediment. That’s it really. Keep it in the fridge and it’ll last for about a week. 

Pour everything in a mixing glass. Even the dashes of syrup.
Stir it nicely. In fact, let this be the therapeutic part of the process. Yeah.
Strain into a sandwich bag. Just kidding. A coupe.
Cut a fresh lemon peel and squeeze the oils in and around the glass. Discard when done.

[Enjoy]

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