So, yeah, last week we hit Cinco de Mayo pretty good here at DOTW central, and we pretty much ignored Derby Day, but better late than never as we’ve got a very nice Mint Julep variation with a bit of an Italian or perhaps Argentine twist. I’d love to also make a connection to Mother’s Day somehow. Well, if mom likes bourbon and mint, we’ve got something for her, too.
This week’s drink comes to us via the good folks at Four Roses bourbon as well as the manufacturers of Fernet Brancamenta, the lesser known mintier, sweeter cousin of the world’s most hairy chested herbal cult liqueur, Fernet Branca.
There are times when I wonder why I get so much free stuff, as I’m actually pretty honest about how I feel about things in my own polite way. If I seem fairly positive for the most part, it’s probably that most widely marketed premium products taste pretty good, I suppose. Also, if I’m likely to really dislike something I tend to ignore the pitches. At the same time, something that doesn’t wow me on its own might working amazingly well in a cocktail and sometimes, it’s kind of the reverse.
This weeks’s products, however are definitely, right on the money. I’m still trying to figure out what else can be done with the Branca Menta, but I can tell by tasting it that it has great possibilities. The folks in Argentina love it with Coke, I’m told. And Four Roses Yellow Label is just a very good, basic bourbon. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. This week’s cocktail is also pretty good, despite not having any bitters, and it might have been a complete revelation if only I was able to master the art of cracking ice.
Part of the problem is that I tend to make these drinks relatively late at night. It turns out that it takes more to properly crack ice than to simply wrap some ice up in a towel and give in a solid tap. Apparently, you’ve got to whack it with all of your might. Well, I was too afraid of A. Waking somebody up and B. Destroying kitchen linoleum with my little meat tenderizing hammer to give my ice the throttling it needs and deserves. The result was perhaps not as ice cold as it should been. One of these days I’m going to have a julep that’s practically a bourbon Slurpee, and I’m going to love it.
Still, we make do.
The Brancamenta Giulebbe di Menta
2-3 ounces Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
2 teaspoons of sugar
12 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon Fernet Branca Menta
Perrier or other soda water/club soda
Mint sprigs and orange slice (garnish)
Place sugar, mint leaves, and maybe a splace or two of your Perrier or other soda in the bottom of a chilled, tallish glass — Tom Collins or what not — or one of those metal julep cups if you’ve got one. (I don’t.) Lightly muddle the mint and the sugar. You don’t want to muddle the mint too hard or it might get a tad bitter. You also might have better luck working with the sugar if you use superfine sugar, like I do. (Simple syrup might well work just as well here.)
Add lots of ice — as cracked as you can make it — as well as your bourbon, adjusting a bit for taste between 2 and 3 ounces, and a teaspoon/bar spoon of Brancamenta. Add just a little bit more soda, too. Stir well and throw in some additional mint leaves and a orange slice for a garnish if you like. I think the orange slice helps a bit with the taste.
Once your drink is ready, if you can think of something that’s Italian or Argentinian and also Kentuckian (for the bourbon), toast it by all means. Make sure it’s good and cold, and drink up.
This is where I usually comment about different brands and what not, but there’s only one Brancamenta that I know of. I can’t stop you from trying different bourbon brands with this. It’s a free country and all that. Still, the relative lightness of Four Roses, which is the rare premium bourbon that’s only 80 proof, works well here.