The Barfly

Our resident drinkies columnist The Barfly campaigns for a new international holiday and mixes a Mint Julep to boot…

Christmas? You can keep it. Hanukkah? Ditto.

St George’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Burns Night, National No Smoking Day… frankly I’d happily see the back of them all if we could declare today an international holiday.

Because it was on this day in 1789 that bourbon was invented.

I’m welling up, here.

The Reverend Elijah Craig is the man we have to thank, for it was he who first distilled whiskey from maize in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

God bless him.

The Mint Julep

Not an easy one this – the short recipe features EIGHT verbs, an indication of just how many hoops through we must jump before we can kick back and enjoy the drink itself. But the making is part of the pleasure.

This is the ultimate cocktail of America’s Deep South and is as integral a part of racing culture as the Kentucky Derby, Ladies Day at Ascot, or the Barfly’s Yankee bet going down the pan in the 4.50 at Kempton Park. Goldfinger serves one to Connery’s Bond near the end of his titular movie, too. It dates back to at least the early 19th Century, and is a fabulous cocktail but be warned: it tales LOTS of advance planning.

2 fresh mint leaves

2 1/2 shots Bourbon

3/4 shot sugar syrup

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Method: Muddy (that’s lightly bruise) the mint leaves (NB lose the stems, they’re very bitter) and bourbon in the bottom of your cocktail shaker. Place in the fridge for AT LEAST two hours. Fill to half way a chilled glass with crushed ice. Shake sugar and bitters with the bourbon and mint with ice and strain into glass. Churn with a bar spoon, add more crushed ice (to the top of the glass) and serve with a long straw.

Glass: Collins (That, mein host, is the tall one)

Garnish: Sprig of mint and slice of lemon.

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