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A Smashing Success With Booze -- The Intense Smashed Julep

It's the time of year when many Americans briefly focus on horse racing.  And what cocktail is associated with the Kentucky Derby, the most famous race?  That's right -- the Mint Julep.  There's certainly nothing wrong with having a Mint Julep or two, but winners don't always stay with the pack. Break from the pack and try an Intense Smashed Julep.  

Intense Smashed Julep2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur
1/4 lime cut into small pieces
4-5 mint leaves

Muddle the mint and lime at the bottom of the shaker, add ice and the other ingredients, shake like you're thundering down the homestretch, and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Mint garnish optional.

There's no super simple syrup in the Intense Smashed Julep.  The Barrow's Intense (disclosure -- I am a very small investor) brings some sweetness and a noticeable ginger taste to the drink.  The Intense Smashed Julep is a mashup (smashup?) of the traditional Mint Julep, the Whiskey Smash, and the Intense Ginger Mint Julep.  If it isn't sweet enough for you, go ahead and add a little super simple syrup.       

Describing a cocktail as a smashed julep is sort of redundant.  Technically speaking a smash is a class of cocktails and a julep (the word derives from an old Persian word for rose water) is a subset of a smash.  As I understand it, a julep contains a spirit, sweetener, herb, and ice, and a smash contains all of those things and fruit.  In other words, all smashes are juleps, but not all juleps are smashes.  

But enough of this horsing around with cocktail semantics.  Have fun, get Intense, and get smashed. 


Bombs Away -- The Brown Bomber

Brown bomber 1The drink is not explosive or dangerous, unless you have too many of them.  It is a tribute to Joe Louis, the late American heavyweight boxer.  Known as the Brown Bomber, Louis was the reigning champion for 140 consecutive months in the 1930s and 1940s, and he had 23 knockouts in 27 title fights.  Talk about staggering numbers (literally, if you were in the ring with him).  Jim Meehan at PDT in New York City created the Brown Bomber, and this is my variation on the recipe on the Whiskey Writes website.

2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.5 ounces Averna or Campari

Brown Bomber 2Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the deliberate force of a boxer dismantling their opponent, and strain into a coupe glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

Most versions of the Brown Bomber call for bourbon or rye, Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif), and Suze (a Swiss gentian root liqueur).  I substituted dry vermouth for the Lillet Blanc, and Averna or Campari for the Suze, because I prefer those liquors.  If you use Campari instead of Averna, the resulting cocktail will be more bitter.

The Brown Bomber isn't far removed from a Boulevardier in that both cocktails have a whiskey base, include vermouth, and contain an amaro such as Campari.   Similarly, the combination of whiskey and dry vermouth is reminiscent of a Scofflaw, so if you like one you'll probably like the other.

If you want a boxing relating drink that's sweeter but just as strong, try my pugilecello.  The Brown Bomber isn't sweet. But like its namesake, it is powerful and classy.


A Drink For A Stud -- The Man O' War

Man_o'_War_statueThat's stud as in a horse, not as in a man.  Man o' War was one of the greatest horses in American racing history. Before he was put out to stud, Man o' War captured the public's attention as he won 20 races .... out of 21.  That's one hell of a winning percentage. This month is National Bourbon Month, so this bourbon based cocktail is timely.

2 ounces bourbon (hello Willett or Bulleit)
1 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounces sweet vermouth (I like Carpano Antica)
Juice from 1/4 lemon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the dominating power of Man o' War thundering down the stretch in one of his many victories in 1919 and 1920, and strain into a chilled glass.

Man o' WarIn honor of Man o' War I recommend you use bourbon from Kentucky, which was his home and is the epicenter of American horse racing.  Even though bourbon doesn't have to be from Kentucky (see this post about American Exceptionalism in alcohol), it would be appropriate in this instance.

There are other cocktails in the Den with ties to horse racing, e.g. the Mint Julep and the Derby.  The Derby is highly similar to the Man o' War, except the former uses lime juice and the latter uses lemon juice. Incidentally, the original Man o' War  recipe generically calls for orange curacao or triple sec.  Cointreau is a personal favorite.  Use whatever orange liqueur you prefer, just keep in mind that the resulting cocktail could be really sweet.

So whether you're a stud, you think you're a stud, or you admire a stud, have a Man o' War!


Hats And Horse Races -- The Derby

Want a well balanced drink that pretty much goes with everything?  Meet the Derby.  It has nothing to do with the hat (also known as a bowler), the city in England, or the type of horse race, the most famous of which is in Kentucky.  Like the Mint Julep, the cocktail associated with the Kentucky Derby, the Derby has bourbon as its base spirit. 

Derby1.5 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces Cointreau or Grand Marnier
.75 ounces sweet vermouth
Juice from 1/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're off to the races, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime garnish optional.

There are a number of versions of the Derby.  I like this one because it's simultaneously a little strong, a little sweet, and a little tart.  It is deceptively powerful.  The Derby won't smack you in the face when you taste it, but a couple of them might smack your liver.

Show your appreciation of a fine cocktail, and tip your hat to the Derby.


For Kings (County) and Dem Bums -- The Brooklyn

This borough of New York City lives in the shadow of Manhattan, both in the world of cocktails and in popular consciousness.  In terms of physical size and population, Brooklyn is actually larger than Manhattan.  Like the borough for which it is named, there's a lot going on in the Brooklyn cocktail.

2014-07-12_08-18-17_975 B Bridge2 ounces rye
1 ounce dry vermouth
.25 ounces Luxardo maraschino liqueur
3 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the intensity that you'd have if you perpetually lived in someone else's shadow, and strain into a chilled glass.

Why kings and Dem Bums?  Brooklyn is Kings County.  Dem Bums is a moniker that referred to the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, which moved to Los Angeles in 1957.  Some people who grew up in Brooklyn, e.g. my father in law, still despise the move.  The etymology of the name comes from Brooklyn pedestrians' ability to evade trolley streetcars -- the Trolley Dodgers. 

Over the years there have been many variations of the Brooklyn.  I selected this one because I like rye and it's easy to obtain the ingredients.  Have enough Brooklyns,  and I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.


Good Things Come In Threes -- The Triple Orange

Inspiration can strike at any time.  This citrusy epiphany came one night as I stared at the lineup of homemade liqueurs in my refrigerator.  The number three is important in American society, e.g. three branches of government, the Triple Crown in baseball and horse racing, etc., so I decided to see what I could do with three ingredients of the same flavor.  And voila -- the Triple Orange.

Triple Orange2.25 ounces vodka
.75 ounces Lupo arancello (orange liqueur)
Juice from 1/4 orange
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the excitement of winning the Triple Crown (like you're Miguel Cabrera or American Pharoah's owner), and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

You make Lupo arancello just as you would make Lupo limoncello, but you use oranges instead of lemons. If you can't wait to make a batch of arancello, use Cointreau or something similar as a substitute.  However, as arancello is sweeter (half of it is super simple syrup) if you use a substitute you may want to scale back on the juice and/or bitters, or add some super simple syrup.

Plan to have three Triple Oranges?  To paraphrase the old Doublemint gum commercial, you'll have triple the fun.  And probably triple vision and triple the hangover.


The $20 Cocktail -- The Place D'Armes

Jackson Square (with St. Louis Cathedral in the background) is a popular spot.
Jackson Square (with St. Louis Cathedral in the background) is a popular spot in New Orleans.

A $20 cocktail?!  Isn't that expensive?  Yes, but it doesn't really cost $20.  So why call it a $20 cocktail?  Because it pertains to Andrew Jackson. Who?  The guy on the $20 bill. Before he became the seventh President of the United States, Jackson was best known for defeating the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.  So why the funky French name?  Because the famous Jackson Square in New Orleans used to be known as the Place D'Armes.

Thanks to Marvin Allen, a great bartender at the legendary Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (and author of the excellent book Magic in a Shaker) for introducing me to this cocktail.

 

I bet this New Orleans resident likes Ward 8s (look closely).
This New Orleans resident likes Ward 8s (look closely).

1.5 ounces rye whiskey
Juice from 1/8 lemon
Juice from 1/8 lime
Juice from 1/8 orange
,75 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're leading the charge against the British, and strain into a chilled glass.

Even though the Place D'Armes is a year round cocktail, to me it's particularly refreshing during the summer months. The Place D'Armes is similar to the Ward 8.  Both have rye as the base spirit, incorporate citrus juices, and use grenadine as the finishing touch. Who knew there's a vague New Orleans-Boston (or N'awlins-Bahstun) cocktail connection?  You do now.


Boston Strong -- The Ward 8

Even though Boston is a great city with a rich history, it is not known as a cocktail town.  That being said, you never should accuse Bostonians of being teetotalers, unless you are ignorant and/or have a death wish.  Although the precise birthplace and inventor of the Ward 8 are unclear (the name refers to a political district), the consensus is that someone in Boston (my parents are from there) invented this cocktail around the turn of the 20th century. 

Make your liver Boston Strong
Make your liver Boston Strong

2.25 ounces rye (go with Bulleit or Willett if you can)
Juice from 1/4 a lemon
Juice from 1/8 an orange
.5 ounces glorious grenadine syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir as if you're walking with excitement to Boston's secular cathedral (otherwise known as Fenway Park), and strain into a chilled glass.

The ingredients of this cocktail may seem incongruous.  In that respect the cocktail honors the city.  For example, there's a wonderful line about Boston being a place where a lot of truly brilliant people coexist with a few violent psychopaths (I'm giving you the less profane version of how I heard it).  I'm not saying that rye is brilliant and grenadine syrup is psychopathic, or vice versa.  I'm merely saying that certain things go together better than you might think.  So make yourself a Ward 8, put on a good movie that takes place in Boston (such as The Departed, Good Will Hunting, or the original Thomas Crown Affair), and enjoy.