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Tag Archives: cognac

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I’m sure by now you know that Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby yesterday.  And I’m nearly as sure that if you had any interest in race at all that you had a mint julep while you watched it, wearing your best party hat, of course.  Gwen and I also settled in to watch the race, and yes, she did have a party hat on.  We also had mint juleps, but not your traditional julep.

Juleps were originally developed as medicinal “tonics” to cure whatever might be ailing you during the 15th century.  A mixture of herbs, sugar and water, eventually alcoholic ingredients such as brandy or Cognac were introduced.  Over time mint became the herb used in juleps and then in the late 1800’s Kentucky bourbon become the choice of liquor to use.  Thus, the modern mint julep was born. 

As with most classic cocktails, there are certain standards and controversy about how to make a proper mint julep.  If you really want to be proper you will use a silver julep cup.  Using a julep cup allows the outside surface to become frosted over from the ice in the cup and adds a touch of elegance.  However, if you don’t have a julep cup (I don’t) you can use any tall cocktail glass.  I used a collins glass for mine on Saturday. 

The second point of contention in the making of a mint julep is just where and how the mint is used.  Some will simply garnish the julep with a large bunch of mint leaves extending from the top of the glass.  This presentation gives you a nice scent of mint with each sip of the julep.  Others will muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass before adding the ice and bourbon.  And what do I do?  Why, both of course! 

I do enjoy a good julep, especially on Derby day.  However, this year I decided to make a variation of the mint julep to provide a bit more flavor.  Here’s my recipe for a Peachy Mint Julep.

  Peachy Mint Julep

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • 1 bar spoon powdered sugar
  • 1/4 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 4 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon

In the bottom of a collins glass gently muddle the mint with the sugar and peach liqueur.  Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the bourbon.  Stir to mix and chill using a bar spoon.  Garnish with a sprig of mint leaves extending above the rim of the glass and serve with a straw.

The Stirrings Peach Liquer adds just a hint of peach flavor and sweetness to complement the mint and the charcoal, smokey notes of the Maker’s Mark.  This is particularly a good way to get your non-bourbon drinking friends to try a julep since it is a bit mellower than a traditional julep.


Day 251, Cocktails 250 & 251

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

Thus starts the standard New Year’s Eve song, sung at the stroke of midnight (after the kissing is over).  It’s actually a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788.  “Auld Lang Syne” translates from the old Scottish to modern English as “for the sake old times” more or less. 

I started with that little tidbit because it’s time to sing Auld Lang Syne to the holiday season.  Tonight’s post is two more cocktails that were served up on New Year’s Eve at the Twilight Lounge bash.  The first is a classic cocktail that hails from the era just after Prohibition.  The 20th Century Cocktail was invented to honor the new Dreyfus Hudson steam locomotive that was put into service pulling the 20th Century Ltd. train between Chicago and New York in 1938.  Although we are well into the 21st century, this is still a damn good cocktail!

  20th Century Cocktail

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass.  Stir to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lemon peel or twist.

A nice, chocolate flavored cocktail with hints of lemon and mellowed out by the slightly sweet flavor of the Lillet.  This would be better as a dessert cocktail after a hearty dinner, but the chocolate fans in your life will enjoy it anytime!

The second new cocktail at the Lounge New Year’s Eve was for my neighbor Jasen.  He was bringing a big bottle of Hennessy VS cognac that was going to be left behind.  The only caveat was that I had to make a drink for him that used the Hennessy.  The drink I chose for Jasen was the Boston Sidecar, which I also imbibed in myself.

  Boston Sidecar

  • 1 oz Hennessy cognac
  • 1 oz light rum
  • 3/4 oz triple sec
  • 3/4 oz lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass.  Stir to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon peel.

The addition of the rum and replacing the traditional sidecar’s lemon with lime makes this close to a margarita in flavor.  I do get a slightly nutty, woody flavor from the cognac, but the lime and rum definately lighten this classic up. 

Well, there you have it, the holidays are officially over!