Monday, May 2, 2016

The South's official cocktails — and a mint julep recipe for this week's Kentucky Derby

Give it to the South to come up with official cocktails for their towns.
First, the Louisiana Legislature named the Sazerac the official New Orleans cocktail, a drink that hails back to 1838 and apothecary owner Antoine Peychaud, named for his favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. The brandy toddy included Peychaud bitters and was mixed using a jigger then known as a coquetier, pronounced ko-k-tay. Many people believe this is where the word cocktail comes from and New Orleans, of course, claims the city as the cocktail's birthplace.
You can find the delicious drink with a peel of lemon all over the city but especially at the Sazerac Bar of the Roosevelt Hotel, my personal favorite with its Depression-era murals and Huey Long history. You can read more about the hotel and bar in a previous blog post by clicking here.
Louisville got in the official spirits act in 2015 and chose the Old Fashioned for its official drink of choice. According to the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, legend contends that Louisville’s Pendennis Club created or reinvented the Old Fashioned in 1881. “Though other historic reference point to bourbon cocktails being made in the ‘the old fashioned way,’” the Bureau insists, “the Pendennis recipe was the first to name the drink and has been on the menu ever since.” 


And not to be outdone by either town, Lafayette, Louisiana, where I reside, created its own official cocktail, this one from scratch. Called the “Rouler” — as in “Laissez les bons temps rouler” or “Let the good times roll” — the drink is comprised of Sweet Crude Rum produced by Lafayette’s own Rank Wildcat Distillery. Add sweet and sour, simple syrup, bitters and club soda, then serve over ice, and you’ll want to roll with the good times too.
Want to know what your home state calls its signature drink? According to Buzzfeed.com, here are the spirits of the South:
Alabama - The Alabama Slammer (amaretto, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin, and orange juice), also known as the signature drink of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. We LSU fans would call that a sissy drink.
Arkansas - The Arkansas Razorback (rum, vodka, amaretto almond liqueur, Kahlua coffee liqueur), another nod to the SEC, this time the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Florida - The Rum Runner (Captain Morgan, blackberry liqueur, creme de bananes and orange juice), originating at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Fla., when the bartender was dared to make a cocktail out of the liquor surplus.
Georgia - The Scarlet O’Hara (typically Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, and a lime wheel), that will make you forget everything until tomorrow.
Kentucky - The Mint Julep (bourbon, sugar, water and mint), best made with Woodford Reserve, the official drink of Churchill Downs. See recipe below.
Mississippi - Mississippi Punch (dark rum, bourbon, brandy/cognac, fresh lemon juice and sugar), first noted in Jerry Thomas’ “The Bon Vivant’s Companion,” attributing its location in Mississippi, according to BuzzFeed.com.
North Carolina - Dirty Beetz (vodka, local beet syrup, lime juice and orange juice)
originating from Raleigh’s The Fiction Kitchen, but we have to ask why?
Jaleberry Strawpeno
South Carolina - The Hemingway Mojito (Bacardi, sunset-red Italian Campari, muddled mint and grapefruit, soda water and grapefruit juice), a colorful drink that looks like a Key West sunset, born from Charleston’s Amen StreetFish and Raw Bar. Shouldn’t that be a Florida drink?
Tennessee - Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Triple sec, sweet & sour, and Sprite), because JackDaniel’s is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I’d say that anything with Jack would be a proper Tennessee drink.
Texas - The Mexican Martini (tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, sweet and sour mix, lime juice, orange juice and Sprite), served straight up in a cocktail glass. On a recent visit to Austin, I had a jaleberry strawpeno made with strawberry jalapeno tequila, lime and agave at Searsucker and I vote for that drink as the official Texas cocktail!

Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, here’s the Woodford Reserve recipe for a traditional mint julep. I got to watch a demonstration of the making of a mint julep at Churchill Downs. The key here is to use fresh mint and muddle the leaves in the bottom of the glass to release that delicious taste.

MINT JULEP
2 ounces Woodford Reserve
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3 fresh mint leaves
Crushed ice

Directions: Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.

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