Rum julep

Serves 1.

Note: From the South Side to the mojito, mint is a cocktail fixture. With the Kentucky Derby two weeks away, it’s time to dust off those mint julep cups. It’s hard to argue with the bourbon-based institution, but for something a bit more exotic, serve your pastel preppy guests this tiki-fied rendition. Bold aged or tasteful spiced rums and orgeat go together like weird hats on old Southern belles. Fresh mint flavor cleans up the simple but robust medley of rum, nutty sweetness from the almond syrup and Angostura’s baking spices. Ride this blue-ribbon cocktail from spring through summer. Recipe inspired by the Sailor’s Julep from Jon Olson, then at 6Smith in Wayzata.

• 10 to 12 fresh mint leaves

• .75 oz. (4 1/2 tsp.) orgeat (an almond-flavored syrup; commercial or homemade — see recipe)

• 2.5 oz. (5 tbsp.) aged or spiced rum (Olson uses Far North Alander Spiced Rum)

• 2 to 3 heavy dashes of Angostura bitters (Olson uses 1 eyedropper each of Bittercube’s Jamaican #2 and Blackstrap bitters)

Directions

Place mint in an empty julep tin, add orgeat and gently press with a muddler to release the mint’s oils. Do not muddle to oblivion. Add rum and bitters, fill the cup halfway with crushed ice and stir until the outside of the cup frosts. Pack with more crushed ice, garnish with mint sprig and serve with a straw.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 310 Fat 4 g Sodium 30 mg

Carbohydrates 28 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 25 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

 

Orgeat

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Note: From Jon Olson.

• 1 c. chopped and toasted almonds

• 2 c. raw sugar

• 1 c. water

• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

• 2 drops rose petal water

• .5 oz. (1 tbsp.) vodka

Directions

Coarsely grind almonds in a food processor. On a baking sheet, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes to toast. Place sugar, 1 cup water, ground almonds and salt in a pot. Simmer and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Let cool overnight. The next day, strain the mixture — squeezing all the syrup from the almonds — and add rose petal water and vodka.

Nutrition information per 1 teaspoon:

Calories 30 Fat 1 g Sodium 6 mg

Carbohydrates 6 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 6 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

 

La Gritona

Serves 1.

Note: Whether you’re 8 or 48, it’s hard not to smile when someone hands you a slushie. However, it’s probably best to keep this tequila-spiked blender drink out of the younger hands. If it wasn’t for a hefty dose of absinthe, this intensely basil-flavored quaff could almost pass for a health-club concoction. The pesto-boosting herb and assertive absinthe prove unlikely compadres, with the basil’s flavor and aroma enveloping the heavy anise character. Multiply the recipe for larger servings at your first back-yard party of the season. You’ll need a whole pitcher. To make simple syrup, heat equal amounts water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved; cool before using. From “The Tippling Bros.: A Lime and a Shaker,” by Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay with Alia Akkam, to be published next week.

• 2 oz. (1/4 c.) blanco tequila

• .5 oz.(1 tbsp.) absinthe

• 1.5 oz. (3 tbsp.) simple syrup (see Note)

• .5 oz. (1 tbsp.) fresh lemon juice

• 8 average-size fresh basil leaves

• 1 c. ice

• 1 lemon wheel slice, for garnish

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 214 Fat 0 g Sodium 9 mg

Carbohydrates 17 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 17 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Sister Tristessa

Serves 1.

Note: Of all the vegetables to turn up (not a turnip pun) in drinks, the cucumbers is perhaps the most frequent. It infuses well in clear spirits (slice up one cucumber and let it mingle with a bottle of booze overnight) and makes a fragrant spring/summer garnish. But in the Sister Tristessa, from Pip Hanson in his Cafe Maude days, muddled cucumber is a cool complement to a vegetal tequila. A faintly fruity dry vermouth acts as a clandestine spine in this verdant post-badminton tipple. To make simple syrup, heat equal amounts water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved; cool before using. Adapted from “North Star Cocktails,” by Johnny Michaels and the North Star Bartenders Guild.

• 6 cucumber slices, divided

• 1.5 oz. (3 tbsp.) reposado tequila

• 1.5 oz. (3 tbsp.) dry vermouth

• .75 oz. (4 1/2 tsp.) fresh lemon juice

•. 5 oz. (1 tbsp.) simple syrup (see Note)

Directions

Muddle five cucumber slices in a shaker with the tequila. Add the tequila, vermouth, lemon juice and simple syrup; shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled martini glass and float one cucumber slice for garnish.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 196 Fat 0 g Sodium 5 mg

Carbohydrates 14 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 8 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Bee’s Knees variation

Serves 1.

Note: For a full-on herbal assault, combine herbs in different components of a drink. From Farigoule thyme liqueur to Art in the Age’s sage spirit, there are many available herb-harnessing products. But Gamle Ode’s Dill Aquavit is a go-to. In this Bee’s Knees riff, palatal sparks fly between the wildly aromatic dill aquavit (made at 45th Parallel in New Richmond, Wis.) and an easy DIY rosemary-honey syrup. The rosemary provides a subtle earthier-than-pine backing note for the dominant Nordic spirit, which spring-feverishly dances across the tongue. But the fragrance alone is like sticking your face into a bee’s nest stuffed with dill.

• 2 oz. (1/4 c.) Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit

• .75 oz. (4 1/2 tsp.) fresh lemon juice

• .5 oz. (1 tbsp.) rosemary honey syrup (see below)

Directions

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

To make rosemary honey syrup: Steep 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary needles in 1 cup boiling water for 8 minutes. Strain needles and dissolve 1 cup sugar in the water. Combine with 1 cup honey and cool before using. (Recipe provided by Eat Street Social.)

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 183 Fat 0 g Sodium 1 mg

Carbohydrates 15 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 3 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g