Original Recipe by Joe the Bartender, Passage to India restaurant, Salem, MA.
It would have been easy to say that substituting spearmint for the mint in this week's drink was yet another stroke of genius on our resident alchemist, Joe's part, or that we, the entire Greatest Drink team sat around a darkened table in a smokey room trying to decide exactly how to improve upon this American classic.
But the truth must be told. It was an accident. A lucky accident borne of a busy night, multiple people multi-tasking and an uncommon breakdown in communication. As Joe was preparing to create this concoction, he delegated the preparation of the syrup and mint mixture to his trusted Sancho Panza-type sidekick and beloved Passage to India fixture, Dilip.
Somehow, Dilip's end result contained fresh spearmint in the place where fresh mint was expected.
Upon the discovery of this departure from the norm, it was unanimously decided to go ahead and try the mix in the cocktail recipe.
The finished result was nothing short of amazing. The spearmint created an even cooler feel to the drink, taking the fire out of the bourbon without masking the taste. Delicious. A real winner!
Joe's Notes: I have been excited about the upcoming Kentucky Derby for some time now. Not because I am a gambling man, but so that I can introduce the Mint Julep into the Greatest Drink library. The Mint Julep is a classic American cocktail, and I think our Spearmint Julep is a refreshing alternative to the original.
As with many of the cocktails that have a herbal ingredient, it was first introduced as a medicinal tonic. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of serving a real Kentuckian a Mint Julep. The lady in question sat at my bar and as the conversation developed, I was informed that "I am a thoroughbred Kentuckian, honey, bluegrass through and through."
Coming from the U.K., I had always had an image of this breed sitting on their veranda wearing a light floral printed dress and fanning themselves cool from the midday heat. My guest was wearing a mickey mouse sweatshirt and a baseball cap. Not exactly my naïve image, nonetheless, she did insist upon calling me "honey," which delighted me to no end. I asked her if I could make her a Mint Julep as I had never had the opportunity of getting a true opinion straight from the horses mouth as it where. After clearing up that I was not actually calling her a horse, she agreed.
With bated breath I waited for her to take the first sip. " Not bad, Honey" she replied.
"Not bad," I said "is not good."
"Well, Honey, two things. Firstly, cook the mint," she then explained the process of infusing the sugar syrup with mint." And cut the straws short, you want to be able to smell the fresh mint leaves. Also, add more ice, we Kentuckians like our Juleps icy cold"
Grateful for her advice, and with the whole "horse reference" thing hanging over me, I thought better of pointing out that that was three things, and not two.
So I hope you enjoy this weeks drink, it is a collaboration from both myself, Dilip, and a real live Kentuckian.
One final note, knowing that my son had recently done a report on the state of Kentucky for school, I asked him what information he could give me. This is what he said. "Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, 50 percent of the people that get married for the first time are teenagers, and it is against the law in Kentucky for women to swallow live frogs."
Almost not-even-remotely-related video "here.")