Category Archives: Brandy

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Vintage Cocktails #75: The Mint Julep

Perhaps nothing defines a classic as much as the Mint Julep. First appearing in print in 1803, three years prior to the first defintion of a cocktail, the julep is complex and versatile, yet so simple at its core. While juleps rained supreme in the 18th and early 19th centuries, they soon gave way to the family of drinks known as “smashes”. Faster to prepare and consume, smashes meshed well with the increasing pace of American life.

While early juleps were likely mixed with cognac, the accepted spirit nowadays is bourbon. For the preparation of a proper julep, a few things are needed. Firstly, a traditional silver or pewter julep cup is essential, allowing frost to form on the outside of the cup and keeping the drink icy cold. Secondly, crushed ice is a must. I make my crushed ice by placing it into a canvas lewis bag and crushing it with a mallet. Thirdly, lots of nice fresh mint is needed both as an ingredient and as a very functional garnish.

So let’s begin. A traditional julep is made with just four simple ingredients, Spirit, sugar/syrup, ice, and mint. I switch mine up just a bit and use a sweet liqueur in place of the sugar, which adds a little bit of extra flavor to the drink. We start by gently muddling roughly a dozen mint leaves in the bottom of the cup. The goal here is to gently express the mint oils and coat the glass, not to shred the leaves to a pulp. I usually add the liqueur (Apricot in this case) at this time as I like to get the flavors incorporated. Next we will fill our cup with the crushed ice, and pour in our Bourbon. A quick stir is really all that is needed, just enough to get the cup to start frosting on the exterior. Then we will pile more crushed ice on top to give it that adult snow cone look. Then we will garnish with several large sprigs of mint, the more the better in my opinion, and place our straw nice and close, so that in sipping the beverage your nose is treated to the wonderful aromatics of the mint. And there you have it, a perfect summer sipper for those long hot afternoons. Cheers!

The Mint Julep
2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Orchard Apricot Liqueur
Mint

Vintage Cocktails #55: The Vieux Carré

This last Monday, at Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, I attended several sessions, one of which was: Famous New Orleans Cocktails. Our next cocktail is one of these classic New Orleans treasures. Originally the signature drink of the Hotel Monteleone, this is yet another drink that for some reason or another faded off the map. There is reason to celebrate however, as it is once again being served at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.

The Vieux Carré
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 tsp Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychauds Bitters

Vintage Cocktails #54: The Soother

In 1935, A.S. Crockett, historian of the Waldorf-Astoria, put to paper The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. This book provided the recipes for over five hundred cocktails served prior to prohibition at the world’s most famous bar, as well as over a hundred recipes for drinks originating during, or slightly after prohibition. Presumably Crockett’s goal was to provide direction for the lost art of tending the rail, however, his book is a little challenging in that a large portion is essentially variations of the classic martini. Alternating ratios of vermouth, both sweet and dry, as well as different brands of gin and bitters, make finding a great cocktail in this book somewhat difficult. However, Ted Haigh has done the hard work for us, and unearthed a true gem.

The Soother
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp Apple Juice
1/2 tsp Simple Syrup (or Agave Nectar)

Vintage Cocktails #51: The Chatham Hotel Special

Our next cocktail is the Chatham Hotel Special. One of the signature cocktails of this former hotel, this is a great after dinner/dessert drink. The brandy and port play together nicely, and the cream and hint of chocolate provided by the creme de cacao give this drink just a hint of sweetness. It’s not cloying at all, and is altogether an excellent cocktail. Cheers!

Chatham Hotel Special
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Ruby Port
1/2 oz Cream
1 dash Dark Creme de Cacao

Vintage Cocktails #49: The Coffee Cocktail

This is quite possibly the most confusing cocktail I have come across to date.
In his 1887 book, Jerry Thomas offers this description of this beverage:

“The name of this drink is a misnomer, as coffee and bitters are not to be found among its ingredients, but it looks like coffee when it has been properly concocted.”

I’m not really sure what kind of port Jerry was using, but this drink looks nothing like coffee when it is made. You could maybe pass it off as a raspberry latte, but even that is pushing it a little. However, appearance aside, this really is a great cocktail. The brandy comes through in the initial taste, followed by the sweetness of the port wine. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely be having this one again. Cheers!

Coffee Cocktail
1 oz Brandy
1 egg
3 oz Ruby Port
1 tsp Sugar