So your favorite watering-hole is closed down by the pandemic. Or popping by for a pint while bars are opening at half-capacity (or less) in phases means waiting in line, or making a reservation days ahead.
Fortunately, there’s a solutions for these: the Quarantini! But not having an impressively stocked arsenal, like your favorite bar does, means working with what you’ve got.
So what’s a girl to do? What, indeed.
The only explosive growth I’ve seen this early summer is the mint plant in my garden. And, like they say, when life hands you mint, make juleps!
The mint julep has been around since the 18th century, and is still the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. It’s been featured in classic literature, such as Gone with the Wind and The Great Gatsby, as well as in stories (rumors?) about some famous writers.
William Faulkner would sometimes go behind the bar at Musso & Frank Grill in L.A. to make himself a mint julep. Ernest Hemingway threw a fit and smashed his drinking glass against a wall at a bar in France, because the bartender served him a crappy mint julep.
Given the extreme reaction to his cocktail, my guess is the base spirit was something NOT bourbon. I mean, I get it. The man was heartbroken, obviously.
As luck would have it, an American tourist was also at that bar with friends. Seeing this outburst, he procured a bottle of Makers Mark from his satchel, thus calming the writer’s rage with a properly made drink.
I sometimes use Makers for this cocktail. Today, though, I’m using Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
1 teaspoon sugar
Bunch of mint leaves
2 ounces bourbon
Add the sugar.
Put the teaspoon of sugar in a mixing glass. I use Baker’s Sugar, which has finer, smaller granules than regular sugar, so it dissolves more quickly. If you’re using regular sugar, just add about a teaspoon of water to dissolve it completely.
Add the mint.
After you add the bunch of mint leaves in the mixing glass, just press them gently and firmly with your mixing spoon, or muddler. You want to extract the oils without tearing up the leaves.
If you use a muddler, DO NOT pound the leaves; you’re not making a mojito! Besides, breaking the leaves releases its chlorophyll, which can make your julep taste a little bitter.
Add the ice and bourbon.
Pour some crushed ice on top of the mint leaves. Now add your bourbon, and give it a couple of stirs.
Work on the presentation.
The cocktail is almost ready for its big moment! Pour the mixture into a highball glass.
Heap more crushed ice, and place a mint sprig on top.
Stir until the glass feels chilled, then add a straw for sipping.
And now enjoy your summer day with another classic cocktail!