Here’s another drink from Bar La Florida cocktail handbook, which I acquired recently and have since used for my last two columns. I wish I’d looked at it a few days or a few weeks earlier, because it would have helped me answer a few reader questions we’ve received in the Ask the Bartender section of our website — recently, separate readers asked me a) can a mint julep be made without bourbon, and b) what else can you do with mint, anyway?
This Mexican-style mint julep takes a crack at answering both of those questions. We’re using a mix of cognac and port to make our julep this time, sweetened and deepened with a bitters, simple syrup, and maraschino liqueur. The end result is a bit less grapey than I’d expect, with an earthiness from the maraschino. The preparation for this is different from either the modern preparation of a julep (in which mint leaves and sugar are muddled to hell before adding bourbon and ice) and the traditional preparation (in which the sprig of mint is pressed against the glass just enough to express the mint oil, then left intact as a garnish to freshen up the drink.) Instead, we’re relying on the ice ricocheting around inside the cocktail shaker to press and express the mint oil. It definitely does the job.
Altogether, this is a fairly satisfying cocktail, if only to help change things up when your normal mint juleps get boring. (Those get most of their appeal from shaved ice and presentation, anyway. And they probably can’t be properly enjoyed unless you’re willing to spring for a silver tumbler.) And they certainly answer the question of whether juleps need bourbon in order to be “official.”
Ment-julep (Mexican style)
- 2 sprigs spearmint
- 1 1-inch piece lemon peel
- 1.5 oz. port wine
- 1.5 oz. cognac
- 1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
- 1/2 tsp. simple syrup
Pull the leaves off the mint sprigs, and pack an old-fashioned glass with ice, layering the leaves between the cubes. Add all liquid ingredients to the glass; twist the lemon peel over the glass and place it over the top. Fit a cocktail shaker over the old-fashioned glass and shake well to mix the drink. Serve garnished with two cherries.