|The Julep: potential for great douchey-ness and marginal deliciousness.|
I taught a cocktail class last night, and one of the main points I made in the history portion was from Dave Wondrich's book Imbibe and some of his other talks: that the ice industry of the 1820's and 30's in New England revolutionized drinks-making for the next 200 years. Cocktails went from being served at room, cellar temp, or hot, to being served cold. Prior to 1800, ice was a scarce commodity, especially in the heat of summer. How is it that the Mint Julep, The Cocktail of Virginia in the 1700's, could be so misunderstood? Was it formerly hot drink? Where was the ice? Did it come later? The Julep stands as a symbol of late-spring refreshment….how could it be that the fundamental identity of this drink could be so far from how we currently imagine it?
It's worth considering that in the late 1700's (again, Wondrich is the source here), men especially were abusing alcohol--spirits in particular--and were mixing up potent "slings" as their poison of choice. Usually, just whiskey, sugar, and water, these primitive drinks were the fuel for a great deal of domestic violence, and sowed the seed of the Temperance movement, as well as starting the push for Women's suffrage and even the American feminist movement. Oh shit! Whiskey-sugar-water….where have we heard that before? We'll I'll be damned if a julep isn't just a sling with some mint, drank now and then by some of the more reprehensible members of society; in the past, wife-beating deadbeat dads, and contemporarily, floppyhat-wearing lasses and lobster-panted lads day-drinking away their parents' inherited fortunes at the races. Man, I really hate this drink.
|The face of moral outrage.|
|Real life right there.|
1 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz Zaya Rum
3/4 oz Morrocan mint tea syrup**
3 drops Bob's Peppermint bitters
10 large mint leaves
3 stalks of mint
**Morrocan mint tea syrup
1 c boiling water
2 tbsp Morrocan mint tea
1 c sugar
Pour boiling water over the tea and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and add sugar. Stir to dissolve
and then refrigerate.
To a julep cup or tumbler, add the 10 mint leaves. Bruise with a muddler. Add the spirits, syrup, and btters, and top half way with crushed ice. Stir to incorporate the mint and melt some of the ice. Top with more crushed ice, and garnish with a cluster of 3 stalks of mint.
Just down the road from where I live here in Cville is Laird's Distillery, and their Bonded (recently declassified as "bonded") Apple Brandy is really quite tasty. It manages to retain a good deal of the funky hard cider flavors from which is was distilled. Zaya also makes an incredibly rich, vanilla-y, aged rum, which some people have deemed too delicious to the point of declaring that indeed something must be wrong with it. I disagree. I think is rich and delicious and nothing is wrong with it. Both of these spirits were popular in the 1700's, and hopefully they were consumed a bit more ethically than whiskey "Slings" in their heyday. Together they make a good brown base for a cocktail with a healthy amount of bitters, crushed ice, and mint. The Morrocan mint syrup adds just another hint of mint, and bit of green tea tannins, which reinforce our bitter element. As much as I hate to admit it, I really like this Julep :) Happy mixing!
|Hope sprouts eternal.|