Sunday, May 4, 2008

One Derby, Three Juleps

I am back, readers, from my B.A.R. exam and I can't remember when I last felt so utterly exhausted. I'll have more to say about the experience in coming weeks, but for now let me talk about how, beverage-wise, I well honored the Kentucky Derby today.

I kinda like horse-racing, as sports go, but I do not get to the track very often. In fact, I've been to exactly one horse race, and that was harness racing, which, as I understand it, is an equine sport that slightly embarrasses true horse-racing fans.

BUT, I like the idea of the Derby. The pomp. The dressing up. The betting. The sporting life. And the iconic drink, The Mint Julep. Feeling like a more skilled drinkmaker after going to B.A.R., I made myself a Julep with a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon I just bought. I'm growing fresh mint in my window, so I'm well ahead of the game. I realize, however, that I'm not yet a master of the crushed ice needed for the drink. My cocktail seemed a little watery.

Later, while in Manhattan, I stopped by Little Branch in the Village. They were ready for me. The sharp barkeep offered to make me one of three different Juleps. I chose one called a Jersey Julep. It featured Apricot Liqueur. Apricot Liqueur has been on my mind since Tuesday, when Robert Cooper—who invented St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and who took the B.A.R. course with me—bought a bottle at Astor Place Wine and Spirits and gave me a sip. Yum. The drink was tasty, if a bit off-balance. The bourbon and apricot didn't quite meld. And the bartender knew his ice. The glass was topped by a veritable mound of shaved ice, which never melted!

On the way home, I stopped by Jake Walk in Brooklyn. I was shocked to heard from the Bartender that my Julep was the first that had been ordered that day. What is wrong with these people? I perfectly good excuse to drink a special cocktail and they blow it? They made it differently here, not building it, but gently shaking it, and serving it on the rocks. Still, it tasted as a julep should, and put my to shame.

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