Islay Vacation

If all you think of when you think of Scotch is old men in suits, it's time to expand your horizons. 

Scotch is essentially just whiskey, but with a little something extra... Peat. What is it? Well, let us tell you. Peat is basically old, decayed plant material that forms over thousands of years in certain areas. Scotland, for instance, is one of those areas. The peat is cut from the ground in blocks, dried and used as a fuel source. We'll come back to the use of peat in just a minute...

When making Scotch (and most spirits), grains (barley, rye, etc.) are turned into a mash (think runny oatmeal) and yeast eats the sugars, creating alcohol. That mash is then distilled and the booze is aged in barrels. By allowing the grains to partially germinate, it converts starches into sugars. But you want to stop the germination process with heat before the grains actually sprout. A 'peated' whisky refers to the use of peat as the heat source in drying the grain prior to making the mash. The smoky flavors from the peat add significant character the end product, making Scotch unique from other whisk(e)ys. 

Now that we've had a history lesson, let's talk about this cocktail. Since Scotch has so much flavor, we figured we would use it in a Tiki drink, a perfect cocktail to appreciate the flavors of Scotch without slapping you across the face with them. The use banana, in particular, is a great partner for the flavors of good Scotch. In this case, we're using Laphroaig (pronounced like this). It's been around for 200 years, so you know they've got their shit together.

equipment:

cocktail shaker
cocktail strainer
collins glass

ingredients

1.5 oz Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz banana puree (just mash up a ripe banana until very smooth)
1 oz simple syrup
4 dashes tiki bitters
fresh mint for garnish

method:

Combine everything except the mint in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Transfer to a glass and garnish with fresh mint. 



Applejack Mint Julep

Good ol' traditions. They're pretty cool every now and then. Especially when it comes to the first Saturday in May and it's DERBY TIME!

But just because something's always been done one way doesn't mean it's not in need of a facelift every now and then. 

Enter the Applejack Julep as exhibit one. 

Of course, the traditional Mint Julep is made with bourbon. We've got a recipe for it here. But this version swaps out bourbon for Applejack Brandy. The result is a smooth and sippable julep, whipped up in no time at all. 

 

equipment:

cocktail shaker
muddler
fine mesh strainer
julep cup

ingredients:

2.5 oz Applejack Brandy
1 oz simple syrup
a shitload of fresh mint


method:

Muddle a small handful of fresh mint (about 15-20 leaves) in the bottom of an empty cocktail shaker. Normally we would stress just pressing and not pulverizing, but this time, beat the shit out of it since you'll be straining it anyway. Add the Applejack and simple syrup to the shaker, cover and dry shake (no ice!) for about 15 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into your glass of crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint and a slice of apple if desired. 

Key Lime Mojito

Mojitos. They're the bane of every bartender's existence. As soon as one gets ordered, everyone wants one. All that damn muddlin' and prep. 

But people order them for a reason. Because they're fucking delicious. Fresh mint, lime, sugar, rum and seltzer combine to make one hell of a tasty cocktail. 

We've got a bottle of the Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum and were wondering what to do to a mojito that would make it stand up the intense flavor of really good rum. The answer was simple, swap out regular limes for key limes

Valued for their tart and bitter flavor, key limes have more acidity (and seeds) than regular limes. They're easy to find fresh in about any grocery store, so please don't cop out with bottled juice, okay?

 

equipment:

muddler
cocktail shaker
bar spoon
tall glass

ingredients:

1.5 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
2 whole fresh key limes
2 sprigs fresh mint (about 12 leaves)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
5-6 oz seltzer
fresh mint and lime for garnish


method:

Cut the fresh limes into quarters and drop them into the bottom of your cocktail shaker. Add the fresh mint and sugar and muddle to press and release the juices from the lime and the flavor of the mint. Add the rum and stir with a bar spoon to finish dissolving the sugar. Add a few cubes of ice and give it a quick shake before transferring to your glass. Rinse the shaker with the seltzer and pour into glass. Give it a light stir and fill with more ice if needed. 

Moonshine Julep

Of course the traditional method of making a mint julep calls for bourbon. But if you know us at all by now, you know we're not necessarily traditionalists. 

There's a million and one ways to make a mint julep, but this method calls for a homemade fresh mint syrup. To make, take equal parts of granulated sugar, water and tightly-packed mint (stems and all). Bring it to a boil and remove from the heat to let it cool before straining to remove the mint. What's left will keep refrigerated for a couple weeks.

But back to that moonshine. We're using one of our all-time favorites, American Born. It's important to note that not all moonshines are made equal. Many are basically just vodka, but not American Born.  Packing a proof of 103, it has sweet grain flavor and is basically just unaged whiskey. It's good stuff and perfect for making a mint julep.

 

ingredients:

2.5 oz American Born Moonshine
1 oz mint syrup (see recipe above)
sprig of fresh mint

method:

Fill your glass with crushed ice. In a separate mixing glass, combine the moonshine and mint syrup and pour over the crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint. 

 


The Perfect Mint Julep

It's almost Derby time and that means it's also JULEP TIME! 

For the unexperienced, a Mint Julep might seem like a ladies drink, soft and supple, with sweet notes of mint. Don't be fooled, it's one boozy-ass bourbon-packed cocktail, lightly-sweetened and enhanced with fresh mint. 

There's a million and one ways to make them, but after some experimenting, we've narrowed down the recipes to this version, which we like to call The Perfect Mint Julep. 

It starts with the right Bourbon. Of course, we here in Nashville often reach for Belle Meade Bourbon. They just recently won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so you know it's good. But you know what else? Take a look at the label. There's horses on there - see, it must be perfect for Mint Juleps!!

The other thing we like to do is to make a mint extract of sorts. Start this process at least a day ahead. For each cocktail you'll make you will need 1/2 ounce of this extract, so plan accordingly. We've included the easy recipe below. 

Finally, you'll want to have a good julep cup, crushed ice and a short straw. Why a short straw you ask? Because it conveniently puts your nose right above the fresh mint sprig, enhancing the enjoyment of this perfect classic cocktail.

 

equipment

mixing glass
julep cup
short straw

ingredients:

2 oz Belle Meade Bourbon
.5 oz mint extract (see recipe below)
.5 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
fresh mint sprig


method:

Mix together your liquid ingredients and set aside. Fill your julep cup with the crushed ice halfway before placing the sprig of mint so that the top leaves extend about an inch from the rim. Fill the rest of the way with ice, using it to hold the mint sprig in place. You'll want to overfill the cup with ice so it's rounded on top. Carefully pour in your bourbon mixture, add a straw, kick back and enjoy.


Mint Extract

Make the mint extract by infusing 10 fresh mint leaves with every ounce of Belle Meade Bourbon. Let sit at least 24 hours before using. 

Sage Advice

If you're not familiar with Art In The Age, you should be. Based our of Philly, they make some of the most flavorful, complex spirits with organic ingredients. We had their RHUBARB and ROOT at our February Bitter Lovers event and they were a hit. 

They use an incredible mix of botanicals and ingredients to flavor each of their spirits. Defying all classifications, they aren't vodka, they aren't gin...they're just good. 

For this cocktail, we used their SAGE. Slightly sweet and instilled with organic American botanicals including thyme, rosemary, lavender, fennel and, of course sage, it's delightfully mixable in both sweet and savory cocktails. And at 80 proof, it's not just some mild, flavored liqueur. 

equipment

cocktail shaker
muddler
hawthorne strainer
fine mesh strainer
coupe glass

ingredients

2.5 oz Art In The Age SAGE
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lime juice
fresh mint


method

Start by placing 6-8 large mint leaves in the bottom of your cocktail strainer and muddle to release aromatics. Add SAGE, simple and lime and fill with ice. Shake like hell for about 15-20 seconds and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a single mint leaf on top. 

Coconut Mojito

Bright and refreshing, a mojito is the ideal summertime cocktail. But as they say, there's more than one way to skin a cat! By simply swapping out light rum with a flavored rum, you can add a new dimension to this summertime sparkler.

We've made this Coconut Mojito with Sugar Island Coconut Rum. Made with only natural coconut flavors, it's slightly sweet with a flavor that's not too overpowering. We added a little extra boost of flavor with Eli Mason Mint Julep syrup.

 

equipment:

cocktail shaker
muddler
highball glass

ingredients:

2 oz Sugar Island Coconut Rum
.5 oz Eli Mason Mint Julep Syrup
8-10 fresh mint leaves
6 oz seltzer
1/2 fresh lime
fresh mint sprig and lime wedge for garnish


method:

Cut the 1/2 fresh lime into pieces. In the bottom of your cocktail shaker, muddle mint leaves and lime to release flavors. Add rum and mint syrup before filling with ice and shaking well. Add seltzer and transfer contents into highball glass. Garnish with fresh mint sprig and lime wedge.

Moonshine Mint Lemonade

The summertime polar vortex of 2014 is over. While we will miss the breezy climate, we welcome the opportunity to sweat the way you're supposed to come summertime. But with hot, humid temps, comes the need for a boozy cocktail that's refreshing. Enter moonshine. Too often, folks forget about the mix-ability of moonshine. It's not just for shots anymore.

We made this one with American Born, party because it packs a proof of 104 and partly because the shit is just tasty. You won't need much else for this one - lemon, simple, mint....that's about it. So get off your lazy summer ass and get to drinkin' some moonshine!

 

equipment:

cocktail shaker
muddler
highball glass

ingredients: 

1.5 oz American Born Moonshine
1.5 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1.5 oz simple syrup
1.5 oz water
6-8 mint leaves
resh mint and lemon for garnish

 

method:

muddle mint leaves in bottom of cocktail shaker. Fill your drinking glass with ice and transfer to shaker (easy way to measure so you don't have too much). Add booze, simple, lemon and water and shake the hell out of it for about 15 seconds. Transfer entire contents to your drinking glass and garnish with sprig of mint and slice of lemon. 

 


Whiskey Tango

If you've never tried Fernet Branca, you don't know what you are missing. In the class of other bitter digestif liqueurs, we think it really falls into a category all its own. 

While it certainly has some of the bitter herbal qualities associated with other brands, it has a distinct, almost minty refreshing finish. Stop by many of the bars or restaurants around town and you'll see the staff doing shots of Fernet - which is not a bad idea if we do say so ourselves. But we thought we would use just a touch of its signature flavor in this whiskey-based cocktail.

To enhance the flavors of Fernet Branca, we also used the Mint Julep syrup from Eli Mason. If you don't have access to it, muddle some fresh mint and use simple syrup instead. 

 

equipment:

cocktail mixing glass
bar spoon 
strainer
rocks glass

ingredients:

2 oz whiskey
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz Eli Mason Mint Julep Syrup
fresh mint for garnish

 

method:

Place a few ice cubes in your mixing glass before adding whiskey, Fernet Branca and mint syrup. Stir to chill for about 20-30 seconds before straining into a chilled glass. Garnish with fresh mint. 

Bourbon Limonana

Ahh, summertime! It's hot as balls outside, you've been braving the heat and now it's time for some booze. You want something with a good kick, but something that's also got some 'quench-appeal.' Enter the Bourbon Limonana.

Limonana is a type of lemonade made with fresh mint leaves that's popular throughout much of the Middle East. It just sounded so damn delicious that the natural next thought was "add bourbon!" While we chose to make it frozen in a blender, you could also just shake the shit out of this one and it would still be delicious.

So, let's get started. 

 

equipment:

blender
cocktail glass

ingredients:

1 oz. fresh lemon juice
8-10 large fresh mint leaves
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
ice

 

method:

in a blender, combine lemon, mint, simple syrup and bourbon. Fill your glass with ice to measure quantity and empty the ice into the blender. Puree until very smooth and transfer to glass. Toss a straw in that bitch and enjoy - responsibly, please!