Preface: I know perfectly well that canning fruit jam will not produce botulism. It's called humor. Cooking is much more than just producing food for sustenance. It is at once intimate and objective, creative and logistical. But above all else,…
This beyond-awesome illustration courtesy of graphic designer and cocktail blogger Dr. Bamboo.
Do I really need to break down where the inspiration for this cocktail came from? Fine, okay, I was eating Thin Mint cookies while drinking bourbon. Oh, like you haven’t.
Anyway, this is a drink recipe that practically writes itself. After all, if my cocktail math is right:
- Mint + bourbon = mint julep = yum
- Mint + chocolate = Thin Mint cookie = yum
- Chocolate + bourbon = just plain old yum
So, applying the law of conservation or whatever, that’s, like, yum cubed. I may be wrong on that, since they didn’t teach cocktail math in my high school, which is just one more reason why I don’t need to relive those years.
My first attempt at building this recipe involved making my own chocolate liqueur, made with a mint-infused simple syrup, and muddling mint leaves in the glass. The end result was fine, if rather … subtle. But sometimes subtle is highly overrated. I mean, this is a cocktail modeled after a Girl Scout cookie, fercryinoutloud. Do you think they sell hundreds of thousands of boxes of cookies with subliminal advertising and gentle hints? No, they cast their doe eyes on you and beat you over the head with their cuteness. Subtle ain’t exactly the name of the game.
I knew this much; I wanted the drink to have a rich chocolate base and a clean peppermint high note. Casting artisanal ingredients and techniques out the window, I went straight for the peppermint schnapps — which our local booze store doesn’t even stock, it’s so lowbrow. I also invested in some crème de cacao, but opted for the good stuff since that’s something that might actually have an application in a future drink. (For the record, as far as I can tell, there is no “good stuff” when it comes to peppermint hooch.) Et voilà — one of America’s favorite cookies in cocktail form. Bottoms up!
So promise me this: When this gets picked up and becomes the hottest girl drink of 2009 and is sold prefab in bottles and poured directly from spigots and is converted into one of those frozen slushie cocktails served from a churning machine, remember that you read it here first. Scout’s honor?
As an ice-cold beverage, the julep is cool and refreshing, but the flavors lend themselves well to other preparations. By upping the ratio of simple syrup and mint to bourbon, it makes a wonderful poaching liquid for ripe fruit, and in particular that most southern of fruits, peaches. Since peaches are just now reaching their pinnacle of ripeness, this is a perfect, and perfectly seasonal, dessert.
I stole the idea from Nigella Lawson‘s Forever Summer; I never actually bought the book, just watched her make this on the television show. I just intuited the recipe — it isn’t really all that complicated.
Do you dare to eat a [mint julep-poached] peach?
I've been pretty hard on Kentucky (and Kentucky's been pretty hard on me... ) but I want to be clear that there are many good things about the place. You just have to know what and where they are. Case…
It’s easy to forget, when you’re firmly esconced in your own happy bubble of culinary joy, that mediocrity fills the world like so much styrofoam popcorn. The one surefire way to burst that bubble is air travel. For when you are on the plane, the universe of diverse and wonderful consumables is suddenly and horribly narrowed to a meager selection of subpar goods supply of which, in Soviet-era style, is prone to running out even before demand has been given the opportunity to arise.
Coming home from New York, wedged in a middle seat, I sought succor in the form of Jack Daniels to numb the psychic pain of the trip and help make the time pass faster. (This is another thing about air travel — the eerie extension of time, as if the fuselage of the plane is some kind of time machine with the preternatural power to turn hours into days. Small wonder I always feel years older when I deplane.)
Now, DPaul and I like us the bourbon. A lot. Having been to Kentucky something like 500 times, we have had the occasion to visit a few of the distilleries, like Maker’s Mark and Labrot & Graham (producer of Woodford Reserve). Many distilleries are in idyllic spots* full of natural beauty (fresh mountain stream water is, you see, a critical ingredient), peppered with quaint and country-fied cottages and cabins. Yes, it’s all very Disney, but they do cultivate a marvelous image of old-fashioned booze-making.
(Photo: DPaul Brown)