Syrup is a many-splendored thing. A two-to-one ratio of water to sugar can turn into virtually whatever sweet concoction you can imagine. When I was working in fine dining, we had ginger syrups and jalapeno syrups and hibiscus syrups and I don’t even remember what else for our highly fancy cocktails. A dash of simple makes making sweet tea much, much simpler, whatever weird syrups you care to concoct make your Sodastream a thing worth the counter space, and of course the omnipresent bottle of Hersey’s will trick small children (okay, and also me) into drinking their milk. I see pre-made syrups hanging out at the grocery store, and it makes me ultra-crazy because it takes under a minute to make and the sky’s the limit. I’m going to show you how to make chocolate syrup today, but I’ll make some notes after the jump for how to customize it. The method’s the same no matter what.
Anyone who says they don’t like mint juleps obviously had their first one at the track. Anyone who says they do like mint juleps and tells you that they had their first one at the track is not to be trusted. The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby is a vile thing made with Early Times and insufficiently muddled mint. It is a sad thing, and I don’t want you to ever experience it. Mint juleps are a thing of great beauty, and now, with a little bit of help from Walker Percy, I’m going to tell you how to make a good one.
Here’s what you need to get started:
If you don’t have a julep cup (because, presumably, you’re from north of Virginia or something), you can use a hearty, small vessel of another kind.
Fill up your vessel with crushed ice and let that sit for a few minutes. Discard the ice, then add about a tablespoon of granulated sugar to the glass. Top with a ton of mint. Maybe 18-20 leaves. As I’ve said before, the trick is a vast, dizzying amount of mint. Muddle very, very well with a muddler if you’ve got one or a spoon if you don’t.
Fill the vessel up with crushed ice, but keep it in there this time (you’re basically making a booze sno-cone, so the finer the crush, the better).
Dump in 2 ounces of bourbon—you want a nice-but-not-hideously expensive label. Garnish with mint leaves and consume greedily and instantaneously.
I got a surprise visit this week, so I’ll be having a very quiet Sunday here at home. Enjoy these links to see you through the day!
- I consider myself an adventurous eater, but I am still not recovered from the cicada summer of 2004, so this is not something I want to do.
- How do we feel about this? Because maybe I want to sign up.
- When I was a kid, someone asked my cousin what she wanted to be when she grew up and she answered, “a mermaid.” I will be forwarding this to her.
- A Barry Hannah reprint. He was a legend and a gentleman– irreplaceable.
- I would like to point to this when people say there’s no room for feminism anymore. And this is just publishing!
- This is riveting.
- Unemployment! Wine! Lotto! Art! This story has it all.
- When the new Gatsby got pushed back, it basically ruined Christmas. Also, I’ve been pregaming since October.
- Help the elderly learn about pop culture!
Fun fact: I got my master’s degree in bourbon. That is both a true fact (diploma currently at frame shop) and a useful one. It also means that you must, at all times, take my word on bourbon. I’m going to talk a little trash for a sec. Is your favorite bourbon Maker’s Mark or Woodford Reserve? That’s nice. To quote Macklemore, I call that getting tricked by a business. Maker’s and Woodford have their places and are both quality products, but you’re paying for their marketing. They’re young bourbons, aged just a couple years, and you’re paying a premium price. You could be drinking a 12 year for less than half the price. Also, “small batch” is a completely meaningless label. I could throw a “small batch” label on a bottle of Kentucky Tavern and no one could say a damn word about it.
Okay, I’m off the soapbox. I really do believe the best bourbon is the one you like the best, but it makes me cuh-ray-zee when people won’t try something new because they’re sure a four-year-old bourbon with a certain label is better than…say this one:
So this is Rowan’s Creek. It runs you about $35 a bottle and has distribution in most states. It’s a 12 year, and is a Kentucky Bourbon Distillers product. A fun fact about Rowan’s Creek is that it takes its name from Judge Rowan’s farm, the very farm that Stephen Foster‘s My Old Kentucky Home is allegedly about.
ANYWAY, now for the stuff you care about! One of my buddies described it as “velvety” (this may or may not be the same guy from last week, to remain anonymous), but I would lead with maybe…fragrant? Odoriferous, to me, connotes that it smells unpleasant, but it really is one of the nicest-and-strongest smelling bourbons on the market. You get a ton of fruit and spice in every sip, and the flavor lingers with you for quite some time. It’s a medium-bodied bourbon for sure, so I would enjoy it before dinner, not after. After dinner, you’ll be a little wine-drunk and maybe considering pie, so this is not for then. You want to taste all the pears and honey and lemons, plus the usual leather/oak/vanilla stuff you usually get.
Give it a shot! There’s a greater-that-fifty-percent chance that you can purchase this fine, fine product in your state. Let me know what you think.