Due to circumstances beyond my control and yet still totally my fault, I have this far been a total and complete failure in following up on the stated purpose of this blog: visiting the fine drinking establishments of Dallas and reporting on their bourbon-based cocktails. My fault for starting this project six months into the Pretty Little Wife’s pregnancy. Since I’ve yet to extoll the virtues of the Ginger Soda from Maguire’s North Dallas, or the Grand Kentucky Smash from Bolla, or even the Old Fashioned I had at Houston’s, I’ve decided to take a more academic approach.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the holy trinity of bourbon cocktails.
The Father – The Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned has been called the original cocktail. While the basic recipe goes back to 1806, it didn’t pick up the name until the 1880s, by which time it really was old fashioned. Forget about the drinks you’ve seen with mashed up cherries and oranges. The true Old Fashioned is sugar, bitters, spirits, and a twist of citrus peel with just enough soda water to ease the mixing. There’s a very nice YouTube video on the subject here.
The Derby Gras Old Fashioned
1 tsp sugar
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 cherry bomb
1 splash sparkling water
2 oz Four Roses Single Barrel
2 ice cubes
1 twist orange zest (optional)
Toss sugar into an old fashioned glass and douse with bitters. Add cherry bomb and crush into sugar. Splash in sparkling water and mix to dissolve sugar. Add bourbon and ice. Garnish with orange zest if you’re feeling frisky.
The Son – The Manhattan
There is some debate as to the true origins of the Manhattan. The drink dates to the 1880s or 1890s and typically involves vermouth, whiskey, and bitters. Purists will tell you that only rye whiskey will do, but this is a bourbon blog, so the purists are obviously wrong. Like the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan is one of the six cocktails described in David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Personally, I’m just happy that we found a way to get bourbon into a martini glass.
The Derby Gras Manhattan
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz Maker’s 46
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 cherry bomb
Throw some ice in a cocktail shaker. Add vermouth, bourbon and a dash of bitters. Shake vigorously and then strain into a martini glass. Add cherry bomb for garnish.
The Holy Spirit – The Mint Julep
Before the Old Fashioned was old, before men debated the origins of the Manhattan, there was the Mint Julep. The Julep was born in the American south in the eighteenth century. The famed Kentucky statesman Henry Clay carried the recipe to Washington D.C. when he was appointed to fill a senate seat in 1806. In 1938, the Mint Julep joined forces with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby to turn the first Saturday in May into the highest of high holy days.
The Derby Gras Mint Julep
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 large bunches of spearmint + 1 sprig
3 oz Woodford Reserve
Combine water, sugar, and mint (except for the last sprig) in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil, stirring to ensure all sugar dissolves. Allow your mint syrup to cool and then strain it into a bottle for storage. Refrigerate when not in use.
In a Julep cup (preferably silver), combine a half ounce of syrup with the bourbon and give a little stir. Pack the cup full of crushed ice and top with a little more bourbon. Garnish with the remaining mint and put $20 on the #8 horse in the fifth race.
If you don’t already know the words to My Old Kentucky Home, don’t worry… There’s plenty of time to learn ’em before Derby Gras 2012 next May.