Thursday, May 5, 2011

A trifecta of Derby cocktails

A traditional mint julep served in a julep cup is one cocktail option on Kentucky Derby day. (Beau Meyer/Istock Photo)

Cocktails are much like any other accessory: They move in and out of fashion with the change of seasons.

The Kentucky Derby this weekend (the big race airs at 5 p.m. Saturday) signals the kickoff of one of our favorite warm weather cocktails, the mint julep. Bars around the city will feature the traditional version of the venerable recipe, while a few will trot out variations. One that sounds rather interesting: The Regal Julep from bar manager Grant Anderson at The Regal Beagle in Brookline. It’s made with 2 1/2 ounces of Woodford Reserve bourbon, 4 fresh spearmint leaves, 2 tangerine wedges, 1 bar spoon raw sugar, and a splash of soda water.

To make your own traditional mint julep at home, Anderson says, muddle a bar spoon of sugar with a splash of soda water. Add 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon, 4-6 sprigs of mint, shake and strain into a Collins glass (or julep cup if you have one) filled to the top with shaved ice, then garnish with a fresh sprig of mint to activate the flavors with the aroma of the herb.
The shaved ice is key, so take a muddler to regular cubes in a metal bowl to get the right consistency. Any bourbon will do, although a sweeter bourbon, as opposed to one too hot in alcohol content, is preferable. For something outside the whiskey realm, Anderson recommends his recipe called the Floppy Hat, a cheeky reference to the gorgeously ornate and oversize hats traditionally worn at the Derby. The Floppy is made with 2 ounces of Firefly Sweet Tea vodka, another traditional Southern-style spirit, 1 ounce of lemon juice, 4-6 muddled raspberries, and a sparkling wine float.

Boston Globe

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