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Cocktail Recipe: Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby is coming up on May 2, and you know what that means. Mint Juleps! No, not because they’re trendy — because they’re good.

The Mint Julep, a frosty-cold and sweet snow cone of an adult beverage, is one of the true treats of the warm weather season. In the days before air conditioning, they were cherished in the South for their ability to cool you down when the temperature was hot, and thus became a traditional summertime libation that continues until this day.

The recipe for a classic Mint Julep, courtesy of Dale DeGroff, is included below.

Or try The Queen’s Julep from Bob Peters, a twist on the original featuring the addition of Fernet Branca Mentha, the bittersweet and minty Italian  amaro.

Mint Julep

Mint Julep

Adapted from a recipe by King Cocktail Dale DeGroff.

Feel free to substitute your favorite brand of bourbon. Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, while the Old Forester Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. But any good quality bourbon will work.

Use tender, young sprigs of mint, which last longer and look better.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup or 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 4 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Mint Sprig, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare some very cold, very dry powdered ice by crushing chunks of ice inside a canvas ice bag. Bruise the mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup with simple syrup or sugar. Add ice to the three quarter mark and add half of the bourbon. Stir to chill the julep cup. Top off with more powdered ice and the remaining bourbon. Continue to stir until the outside of the cup begins to freeze. Garnish with the mint sprig and set aside to rest while the julep cup freezes over on the outside. Pick up carefully to imbibe.
https://professorcocktail.com/2015/04/23/cocktail-recipe-mint-julep/

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Cocktail Recipe: The Queen’s Julep

The Queen’s Julep

The Queen’s Julep

Adapted from a recipe by Punch Room Head Mixologist Bob Peters.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Fernet Branca Menta
  • 8 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Mint Sprig, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Muddle mint leaves in a shaker. Add bourbon, simple syrup, and Fernet Branca Menta. Add ice and shake. Double strain and pour over crushed ice in a julep cup. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.
https://professorcocktail.com/2015/04/23/cocktail-recipe-the-queens-julep/

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Cocktail Recipe: Maker’s Mark Maple Sour

The Whiskey Sour is a classic of the cocktail repertoire, a simple drink that brings big flavors. It has a wonderful balance between sweet and sour, and a velvety texture that makes it extra pleasing to drink.

The traditional recipe for the Whiskey Sour calls for bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and sometimes an egg white. I’ve replaced the sugar here with maple syrup. Maple and bourbon are a classic combination, and I find it works well for a nice change-up on the original.

You’ll want to use at least a mid-shelf (or better) quality bourbon. It doesn’t have to be Maker’s Mark, although I think it’s an excellent choice for this cocktail. Your choice of maple syrup is also important. It should be a real, Grade A maple syrup. None of the imitation stuff. I used Crown Medium Amber Syrup.

If you’re squeamish about using an egg white, you can use the pasteurized variety, or leave it out all together. The egg white adds a silky texture that gives the cocktail a nice mouthfeel. But if you’re reluctant to consume raw egg, it’s still a good drink without it.

Maker’s Mark Maple Sour

Maker’s Mark Maple Sour

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Maker's Mark Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Grade A Maple Syrup
  • Egg White (optional)

Instructions

  1. Dry shake all ingredients without ice, then add ice and shake again. (If omitting the egg white, you can also omit the dry shake.) Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel, or an orange slice and maraschino cherry.
https://professorcocktail.com/2014/08/25/makers-mark-maple-sour/

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Cocktail Recipe: Long Island Iced Tea

The Long Island Iced Tea has one of the worst reputations of any cocktail. For good reason, too. Served by the gallon at every TGI Fridays and Applebee’s across the land, it’s usually made with way too much bottom-shelf booze and chemical sour mix from a bar gun.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s actually not a bad drink when made right. It’s not a sophisticated or nuanced cocktail by any means. But that’s not always what you’re looking for.

I’m not the only one who still has a fondness for this potent party bomb. Rockstar bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler enjoys them, too, and his recipe is basically the same as my own.

The key is to use high quality spirits and fresh lemon juice. If you make this with cheap triple sec or bottled sweet and sour, it’s going to taste like crap. (Just like you probably remember it.)

On the other hand, if you use the good stuff, it’s a surprisingly tasty and refreshing drink. The brands I used when I made this were: Stoli (vodka), Tanqueray (gin), Cruzan (rum), and Olmeca Altos (tequila). You don’t have to use those specific ones. Just make sure you reach for something good.

Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz. Vodka
  • 1/2 oz. London Dry Gin
  • 1/2 oz. White Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Blanco Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup

Instructions

  1. Shake ingredients with ice and strain over crushed ice in a chilled Collins glass. Float 3/4 oz. cola on top and garnish with a lemon twist.
https://professorcocktail.com/2014/08/25/long-island-iced-tea/

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Recipes Rum Reviews

Cocktail Recipe: Pisco Sour

The Pisco Sour was created by an expat American named Victor V. Morris who traveled to Lima, Peru in the early-20th century to open a saloon. (Lima was something of a boom town in those days due to the mining industry.)

A variation on the Whiskey Sour, Morris supposedly first mixed his version using the native spirit on July 28, 1904. Of course, as with the Daiquiri, attributing the origination of a relatively simple cocktail to just one person at one particular time is problematic.

But if nothing else, Morris was a significant figure in the standardization and popularization of the Pisco Sour, and for that he certainly deserve praise.

Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Pisco
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 1 Fresh Egg White
  • Lime Wheel, for garnish
  • Angostura Bitters, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Dry shake ingredients without ice first, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and a few drops of Angostura bitters. If desired, some fresh nutmeg can be grated on top.
https://professorcocktail.com/2014/08/19/cocktail-recipe-pisco-sour/

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Reviews

Book Review: Robert Simonson’s “The Old-Fashioned”

The New York Times once dubbed columnist Robert Simonson “Our man in the liquor-soaked trenches.” If there’s a better sobriquet than that in all the spirituous world, I don’t know what it is.

Simonson has written numerous fascinating articles in the Times about cocktails and spirits over the years. Now he’s written his first monograph on the subject of alcohol, and it’s a book that lives up to his considerable reputation. Dedicated to the history and importance of just one iconic cocktail, it ends up becoming a fascinating story of drinking in America itself.

The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore is a slim volume, but it’s filled with wonderful stories and discourse, all backed up with in-depth research solid enough to make a grad student envious. Naturally, it also contains a substantial volume of recipes for variations on this essential drink, making it the definitive reference on the subject.

A book about a single cocktail might seem a bit too granular, but Simonson makes it work. It helps, of course, that he’s chosen one of the essential drinks, one that was both reflective of a whole new style of drinking, and that had a great influence on the development of cocktails to come.

Once you’ve learned all there is to know about the drink, the second half of the book contains recipes to try on your own. It contains the original Old-Fashioned, of course, as well as the common variations (Brandy, Rum, Scotch, etc.). It also has new creations from a stellar lineup of bartenders, including Brian Miller, Chris Hannah, Erick Castro, Bobby Heugel, Julie Reiner, and Frank Cisneros.

One of my favorites — and a drink that has become a modern classic on its own — is the Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, created by Phil Ward in 2007 at Manhattan’s Death & Co.

Whether you read it for the history or the recipes, The Old-Fashioned is a lovingly-crafted book that earns its place on your shelf.


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Cocktail Recipe: Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

This twist on the immortal Old-Fashioned was created in 2007 by Phil Ward at New York’s famed cocktail bar Death & Co. It is, in Robert Simonson’s words, “the most renowned of the twenty-first-century variations of the Old-Fashioned, and one of the modern cocktail’s gateway drinks into the pleasures of tequila and mezcal.”

In order to make this drink right, high-quality tequila and mezcal are essential. In his bookSimonson recommends using El Tesoro tequila and Del Maguey mezcal. Those are both excellent choices. Although you can substitute another top-shelf reposado tequila, you’re probably better off sticking with the Del Maguey mezcal, as it’s the gold standard for the spirit.

Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Reposado Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Mezcal
  • 2 dashes Angostura or Xocolatl (Aztec) Bitters
  • 1 barspoon Agave Nectar
  • Orange Twist

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the orange twist in an Old-fashioned glass filled with one large ice cube. Stir until chilled. Twist a large piece of orange zest over the drink and drop into the glass.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe in Robert Simonson's The Old-Fashioned.

https://professorcocktail.com/2014/07/30/cocktail-recipe-oaxaca-old-fashioned/

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Cocktail Recipe: Rye/Bourbon Old-Fashioned

Here is the recipe for a Rye or Bourbon Old-Fashioned, as specified in Robert Simonson’s book The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore.

This is the classic, no-frills version of the drink, with no muddled fruit or soda water or any of that jazz. Just a good, solid cocktail, made in the “old-fashioned” style.

As Simonson describes, using bourbon will make for a mellower and sweeter cocktail, whereas rye will give you more spice and kick.

For bourbon, Simonson recommends Elijah Craig 12-year-old and Henry McKenna single barrel bonded. For rye, he suggests Rittenhouse 100-proof or Bulleit rye.

Rye/Bourbon Old-Fashioned

Rye/Bourbon Old-Fashioned

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange Twist, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Muddle the sugar, bitters, and a barspoon of warm water at the bottom of an Old-Fashioned glass until the sugar is disolved. Add the rye or bourbon. Stir. Add one large chunk of ice and stir until chilled. Twist a large piece of orange zest over the drink and drop into the glass.

Notes

Recipe courtesy of Robert Simonson's The Old-Fashioned.

Photo courtesy of Nik Virrey, Liberty Bar, Seattle, WA.

https://professorcocktail.com/2014/07/30/ryebourbon-old-fashioned/

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Cocktail Recipe: Tequila Watermelon Smash

From the mid-1840s until after the Civil War, the smash was America’s favorite mixed drink. Called by Jerry Thomas “a julep on a small plan,” the smash is a simple-but-delicious cocktail that emphasizes fresh ingredients, minimal preparation, and bold flavors. It’s the perfect style of drink for the summertime.

A smash is usually composed of a base spirit (whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, etc.), fresh fruit or herbs, and lots of crushed ice. It is meant to be cold and refreshing, a little liquid treat. Traditionally this was a small drink, intended to be quaffed quickly. But like most of us, it’s gotten bigger over the years.

I set out to make a drink with great summer flavors — tequila and watermelon go wonderfully together — and to ensure that anyone could easily make one at home. Nothing fancy here. But it’s still delicious.

Tequila Watermelon Smash

Tequila Watermelon Smash

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/4 - 1/2 oz. Agave Nectar
  • 5 oz. Fresh Watermelon (approximately 8 one-inch chunks)
  • 8 oz. Crushed Ice

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the watermelon with the lime and agave until well combined. Add tequila and crushed ice. Shake vigorously, then pour unstrained into a goblet or Margarita glass.
https://professorcocktail.com/2014/07/25/tequila-watermelon-smash-2/

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Cocktail Recipe: Hemingway Daiquiri

Ernest HemingwayAs you may know, Ernest Hemingway was fond of his drink — much in the same way that a Great White Shark is fond of eating seals and surfers. To put it another way: he was a raging alcoholic. As such, he was distinguished by his thirst for cocktails, not his good taste in them.

Hemingway lived in Havana, Cuba during the 1930s, and often did his drinking at El Floridita where the great Constantino Ribalaigua Vert worked behind the bar. The self-proclaimed “Cradle of the Daiquiri,” El Floridita served a menu of cocktails that included at least five different versions of the Daiquiri that Vert created.

When Hemingway discovered El Floridita — supposedly he wandered in looking for a bathroom — he sampled the Daiquiri and found it to his liking. As Hemingway was fearful of becoming a diabetic like his father, however, he demanded a modification: “That’s good, but I prefer it without sugar and double rum.”

Antonio Meilán, a gifted bartender in his own right and an in-law of Ribalaigua’s, made a Daiquiri as Hemingway requested, and it became a regular part of Papa’s drinking rotation. At some point, a touch of Maraschino Liqueur was added to the mix, and a little grapefruit juice as well.

The cocktail that we now call the Hemingway Daiquiri is not for the faint of palate, even in its evolved form. It is strong and tart, and most will find it challenging to drink. If you are one of them, adding a small amount of sugar or simple syrup wouldn’t be out of the question. Although Hemingway might not approve, I suspect Ribalaigua would.

Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. White Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
  • Lime Wheel, for garnish (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wheel.
https://professorcocktail.com/2014/07/21/cocktail-recipe-hemingway-daiquiri/