Mint Julep


Mint Julep
The Julep is a delightful potion that originally came out of the Southern States of America, and many great men have sung its praises through the years. It was the famous Capt. Marryatt, skipper and novelist, who introduced the beverage into the British Isles and below we quote his recipe in his own words : — “ I must descant a little upon the mint julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100 degrees, one of the most delightful and insinuating potations that ever was in- vented, and may be drunk- with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70 degrees. There are many varieties such as those composed of Claret, Madeira. etc., but the ingredients of the real mint julep are as follows. I learned how to make them, and succeeded pretty well. Put into a tumbler almost a dozen sprigs of the tender shoots of mint. upon them put a spoonful of white sugar, and equal proportions of Peach and common Brandy so as to fill it up one-third, or perhaps a little less. Then take rasped or pounded ice, and fill up the tumbler.
“Epicures rub the lips of the tumbler with a piece of fresh pineapple, and the tumbler itself is very often encrusted outside with stalactites of ice. As the ice melts, you drink. I once overheard two ladies talking in the next loom to me, and one of them said, ‘Well, if I have a weakness for any one thing, it is for a mint julep!’ a very amiable weakness, and proving her good sense and good taste. They are, in fact, like the American ladies, irresistible.”

Most of the above comes, verbatim, from Jerry Thomas, however Mr. Thomas’ exact recipe for the Mint Julep is a bit more advanced:

88. Mint Julep

1 table-spoonful of white pulverized sugar.
2 1/2 table-spoonful of water, mix well with a spoon.

Take three or four sprigs of fresh mint, and press them well in the sugar and water, until the flavor of the mint is extracted; add one and a half wine=glass of Cognac brandy, and fill the glass with fine shaved ice, then draw out the sprigs of mint and insert them in the ice with the stems downward, so that the leaves will be above, in the shape of a bouquet; arrange berries, and small pieces of sliced orange on top in a tasty manner, dash with Jamaica rum, and sprinkle white sugar on top. Place a straw as represented in the cut, and you have a julep that is fit for an emperor.

Well, I’ll give it a shot, combining both.

First off, a couple points. First, as related by many authors including Mr. David Wondrich, the “Peach Brandy” in the Southern Mint Julep, is NOT a liqueur, it was an actual Brandy made from peaches and aged in wood. Unfortunately, this is a hard commodity to come by in the modern age, and when you do find it, often costly.

A while ago, a friend made up a batch of Pear Brandy and aged it in Oak, of which I purchased a small bottle. So I will use this instead.

Second, regarding Mr Thomas’ elaborate mint ritual, as I’m stripping leaves from the mint, I usually just use those pieces in the bottom of the julep cup, and leave them there.

Lastly, the julep should technically be made with “shaved” ice, which is hard to do at home, unless you have a ice shaving machine. I don’t, so I just beat the crap out of some ice cubes. It’s not quite shaved, but close enough.

Mint Julep

1 1/2 oz Artez Folle Blanche Armagnac
1 1/2 oz Aged Pear Brandy
generous 1/4 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup

Strip the lower leaves from several sprigs of mint. Place the leaves the bottom of a julep cup and add the gum syrup. Press gently into the gum syrup to extract flavor. Add Brandies and fill with fine ice. Stir until the sides of the cup frost and garnish with fresh sprigs of mint and slices of orange.

So, the Julep is a funny drink. Often, people see the mint and think the Julep is similar to a Mojito. Then they’ll order one and discover it is a big, cold, glass of slightly sweetened and minty Brandy (or Whiskey). A great Julep is a fantastic drink, but without the citrus and soda, it can be a bit of a shock to the system of someone expecting a mild drink like the Mojito.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Swazi Freeze Cocktail

Swazi Freeze Cocktail
1 Dash Peach Brandy. (5ml/1tsp Massenez Creme de Peche de la Vigne)
1/3 Canadian Club Whisky. (3/4 oz 40 Creek 3 Grain)
2/3 Caperitif (5ml/1tsp Amaro Montenegro, 1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass.

For the Caperitif my current favorite substitution remains Blanc/Bianco Vermouth with a dash of Amaro Montenegro.

Accurate or not, this substitution is really tasty in the Swazi Freeze Cocktail, in fact the Swazi Freeze is just about the best use of 40 Creek 3 Grain I’ve found so far.  Also one of the most enjoyable Savoy cocktails I’ve made in the while. I suppose, not dissimilar to one of my favorite modern cocktails, Julie Reiner’s Slope Cocktail.

As usual, cocktails with weird names and Caperitif in the ingredient list are related to South, or in this case Southern, Africa.

For more information about Swazis and Swaziland:

The Swaziland National Trust Website

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Moonraker Cocktail

Moonraker Cocktail

Moonraker Cocktail
(6 People)

Pour into the shaker 2 glasses of Brandy (3/4 oz Lustau Reserve Brandy), 2 of Quinquina (3/4 oz Lillet Rouge) and 2 of Peach Brandy (3/4 oz Massenez Creme de Peche). Add 3 dashes of Absinthe (drop or two of North Shore Sirene Absinthe), shake (I stirred) vigorously and serve.

Moonraker seems like such an evocative name, I have always wondered a bit what it referred to. The two main possibilities seem to be a certain type of sail or a reference to a British folk tale.

The Legend of the Moonrakers (link to swindonweb site)

A pair of Wiltshiremen, engaged in smuggling brandy, hide a barrel of the contraband from the excisemen in a nearby pond and when they return at some later time, in the dark, they are caught in the act of raking the barrel back to land. They immediately claim that they are trying to rake cheese – the reflection of the moon – from the pond and the excisemen, amused by the apparently simple-minded rustics, leave them to it.

Why on earth Ian Fleming would name a book about a plot to use a nuclear weapon to destroy London after this legend, I have no idea.

I was also puzzled by the use of the generic term “Quinquina” for an ingredient. Notes to friendly cocktail experts unfortunately yielded no results, leaving me to rely on my own google-rific conclusions. When examining the results of an image search for “Quinquina” almost all the products which come up seem to be dark or red colored. Dubonnet Rouge comes up quite frequently, but it seems there were a number of other Quinquinas available.

Some friends were cleaning their liquor cabinet and gave me a barely used bottle of Lillet Rouge. Thought it would be appropriate, given the results of my searches.

Used Peach Liqueur, as I don’t really have anything else peachy in the house. Hard to say if this should be peach eau-de-vie, aged peach brandy, or peach liqueur.

With the peach liqueur, this is a pretty sweet cocktail. It is, however, pretty tasty. If you were casting about for after dinner options, you could certainly do a lot worse.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Almond Cocktail

Almond Cocktail

(6 People)

Slightly warm 2 Glasses of Gin (2 oz Beefeaters Gin). Add a teaspoonful of powdered sugar (1/2 tsp. Caster Sugar). Soak in this six peeled almonds (4 halved and lightly roasted almonds) and if possible a crushed peach kernel (crushed plum kernel), and allow to cool. When the mixture is cold add a dessertspoonful of Kirsch (1 tablespoon Trimbach Kirsch), one of Peach Brandy (1 tablespoon Massenez creme de peche), a glass of French Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Pratt) and 2 glasses of any sweet White Wine (2 oz Bonny Doon Riesling). Shake thoroughly with plenty of ice.

Patrick Gavin Duffy gives this the lascivious sounding alternate name, “A Young Girl’s Fancy,” in his “Mixer’s Manual”. For all the work, my wife and I both thought this an odd tasting cocktail. Nutty, peachy and slightly but not overly sweet. Not bad, just kind of odd.

I also had some pyro fun, lighting the gin and pouring a long burning stream over the almonds. Mrs. Underhill did not approve. Something about burning down the house.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.