|Garden to Glass Mint Juleps|
It’s a gimme that I should root for Lookin’ at Lee - a 20 - 1 horse contender in today’s 143nd Kentucky Derby.
The Derby is touted as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” but everyone knows it’s the day-long Derby Day spirits - cocktails inspired by the rich tradition of Churchill Downs, and the state of Kentucky that gave the world that rare, sweet elixir: bourbon that makes for a memorable event. So get those bonnets ready and start muddling the mint.
Post time is 6:46 pm ET at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky. Kentucky DerbyAll Access will be broadcast by NBC.
No long shot here -- these Garden to Glass cocktails are sure-fire, favorite Derby Drinks:
Smoky Bourbon & Ginger Cocktail
From my soon to be published book: Finishing Touches: The Art of Garnishing the Cocktail.
Artisanal, locally-crafted bourbon or Makers Mark: 2 jiggers
Artisanal or homemade ginger-ale: 3 jiggers
Simple Syrup infused with smoky lapsoung souchong tea and vanilla bean seeds scraped from vanilla bean.
To make a simple syrup use equal parts sugar and water cooked over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Cool and store in the refrigerator. Add in any flavoring desired.
Here, add in 2-3 teaspoons of lapsoung souchong tea - depending on the level of smokiness desired.
Vanilla simple syrup adds a spicy, woody, mellow fragrance & taste to a drink and complements the vanilla, caramel notes in this bourbon.
Mix all the ingredients in the glass, over ice. Stir.
Garnish is candied ginger and homemade maraschino cherries.
Recipe for maraschino cherries:
Pair the Smoky Bourbon & Ginger Cocktail with Spicy Maple-Roasted Buttered Nuts
The maple and spicy nuts are natural partners to the bourbon’s caramel, nutty notes and smooth spiciness of the candied ginger garnish.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian Paprika
¼ teaspoon slow roasted chipotle pepper powder
¼ teaspoon Ancho pepper powder
¼ cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
1 pound pecan halves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated pure cane sugar (found in blocks at most Latino stores)
2 tablespoons water
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Mix the salt, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and orange peel together in a small bowl and set aside. Roast the nuts - pecans and a few walnuts too, until toasted Add the butter, then the spices. Mix well. Turn out mixture onto the parchment paper and cool. Store in airtight containers.
Also pair up the Smoky Bourbon & Ginger cocktail with smoky, hand-crafted bbq jerky for a rich, robust taste.
Traditional Mint Julep
Gather mint and muddle in a silver mint julep cup -- I use copper cups. Keeps the drink wonderfully cold. And looks nice too.
Combine 2 ounces bourbon -- I recommend a locally distilled one - and there are so many great local bourbons. You can also use Maker's Mark or Jefferson's Bourbon -- a small batch bourbon made by Chef Edward Lee and a friend. Chef Lee moved from New York to Kentucky originally for the bourbon! This top chef owns and operates 610 Magnolia restaurant.)
Add .25 ounces Pierre Ferrand
And .5 ounces of Demerara Syrup or cayenne syrup
Add 6 dashes of Fernet Leopold Highland Amaro
Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well. Strain mixture into the julep cup
Top off with crushed ice and garnish with remaining mint plus a dash of cayenne pepper for some color.
Derby Derby Daiquiri
Juice of a quarter lime
¾ ounce orange juice
1 barspoon powdered sugar
2 ounce white rum
Shake well over ice cubes in a shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
* From Charles Schumann, American Bar