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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with bourbon

12Jun 12

Manhattan

ManhattanDon’t let brown spirits scare you – the Manhattan is one of the finest and oldest cocktails. It was the first cocktail to use vermouth as a modifier. Since it is strong and simple, this tipple could be considered a drinking man’s cocktail, or the “king of cocktails“.

A popular myth suggests that the drink originated in the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s for a banquet. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated -“the Manhattan cocktail”.

However, there are prior references to several similar cocktail recipes called “Manhattans” and served in the Manhattan area. By one account, it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.

Although the exact beginning is unknown, one thing we do know for sure is that this tipple comes from New York City. Another famous drink in NYC is the Cosmopolitan, made popular by Sarah Jessica Parker. For a slight twist on that posh drink, try this blood orange cosmopolitan.

Traditional views insist that a Manhattan should be made with rye whiskey, and that’s how I like it. However, nowadays, it is more common to make it with with Canadian whisky or bourbon, both of which may contain no rye at all. Bourbon is good, but in my opinion, not as good as rye in this drink.

Remember to stir rather than shake. Why? In the first place, it makes the drink cold. Also, stirring with ice dilutes the drink, which adds volume and an important dimension to the final flavour. When you shake, you introduce tiny air bubbles into the drink, which gives the cocktail a cloudy look. You can shake if you want, but then your drink won’t be as esthetically pleasing.

Needed:

  • 4.5cl rye whisky
  • 1.5cl sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry and a lemon slice for garnishing

How it’s done:

1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
2. Stir well.
3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4. Garnish with a cherry and a lemon slice.

Time: less than 2 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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23Mar 12

Mint Julep

Mint JulepA couple of years ago, I was stranded at a Kentucky airport for 12 hours. I was on my way from Miami to New York, and a storm forced our plane to land in rather a hurry. I was left feeling a little uneasy when I got off and decided to visit the nearest bar for a drink. The bartender recommended a typical Southern cocktail to stabilize my emotions: the Mint Julep. It is probably one of the simplest drinks I have ever tried, and also one of the best.

A mint julep is made with four ingredients: mint leaf, bourbon, syrup or sugar, and water. Traditionally spearmint is the mint of choice used in Southern states, Kentucky in particular. Apparently the secret to a good mint julep is to use loads of spearmint. The flavour is so good that it makes me think that I should also try it in my mojitos.

The origins of the Mint Julep are somewhat of a mystery. The first time its name appeared in writing was in 1803, in a book published by John Davis in London. It was described as “”a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” It is suggested it was first concocted in Kentucky. Henry Clay, State Senator, then took the recipe to the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel in Washington while he was in office. These days, it is the official drink at the world famous Kentucky Derby track.

The most important ingredient in a mint julep is bourbon. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County. It has been produced since the 18th century.

I have never actually been in Kentucky, except for its airport. I don’t know if I will ever return, but my couple of hours there were enough to give me a good memory of the place and a great cocktail to share with you.

Ingredients:
• leaves from 4-5 spearmint sprigs
• 2 sugar cubes or 1.5 cl simple syrup
• 7.5 cl bourbon
• mint sprig for garnish

Preparation:
1. Put the spearmint and simple syrup or sugar into a julep cup, Collin’s glass or double old-fashioned glass.
2. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and to release the oil and aroma from the mint.
3. Add the bourbon.
4. Fill with crushed ice and stir well until the glass becomes frosty.
5. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Time: 4 minutes
Serves: 1 cocktail

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