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- 1 tablespoon Simple Syrup (click for recipe)
- 3 tablespoons VSOP Cognac
- 2 tablespoons rye whiskey
Lightly muddle mint leaves and Simple Syrup in a mixing glass. Stir in Cognac and whiskey. Fill a Julep cup or glass with crushed ice. Pour mixture over. Stir until frost forms on outside of cup. Add more crushed ice to make a mound. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve with a straw.
Nutritional ContentOne serving contains: Calories (kcal) 257.2 %Calories from Fat 0.0 Fat (g) 0.0 Saturated Fat (g) 0.0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 26.7 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 25.0 Net Carbs (g) 26.7 Protein (g) 0.0 Sodium (mg) 3.1Reviews Section
T he Kentucky Derby is a true Southern spectacle, with its own menu, dress code, and cocktail&mdashall for a horse race that lasts barely two minutes. But the mint julep, which today is thoroughly linked to the Derby, was once among the most popular drinks in America.
Fortunately, the julep is now back in the bartender&rsquos lexicon, and not just at Derby time. Few bars, however, elevate it to the heights that Austin&rsquos new Half Step does. Located in the bustling Rainey Street district, Half Step is a studied addition to what is fast becoming a kind of tippler&rsquos row (the folks behind it are also responsible for the Varnish, in Los Angeles, which was named Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2012 Spirited Awards). Its Prescription Julep is a showcase for the bar&rsquos hip historical awareness and fluid expertise. This version of the drink was first &ldquoprescribed&rdquo in Harper&rsquos New Monthly Magazine in 1857. Starting with simple syrup, mint, and a sugar cube, the drink is constructed directly in a julep cup. Half Step utilizes Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula cognac, crafted to replicate the historic cognacs that were produced before phylloxera devastated Europe&rsquos ancient vineyards. To the mixture is added rye whiskey and crushed ice (which, in 1857, had only recently become a standard julep feature). The drink is stirred, piled high with more crushed ice, garnished with fresh mint, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with a short metal straw. Basically, this is the greatest adult snow cone ever.
Half Step&rsquos Prescription Julep may seem like rococo folly, but no detail of this concoction is without purpose. A history lesson never went down so easy.
couple sprigs fresh mint
1 sugar cube
1/4 ounce (scant) simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac
1/2 ounce Old Overholt rye whiskey
powdered sugar, for dusting
In the bottom of a julep cup or double old-fashioned glass, muddle 6 to 8 mint leaves with sugar cube and syrup. Add spirits and crushed ice and stir to chill and dilute. Add a mound of crushed ice to the top of the drink, then garnish with a sprig of mint and a dusting of powdered sugar. Serve with a short metal straw.
Add the simple syrup (or the granulated sugar and a bit of water) to the shaker. Add the mint. Muddle it – not enough to tear the leaves, just enough to get everything mixed up and the oils released from the mint leaves. Add the spirits and stir. Strain into a julep cup and top with crushed ice.
Garnish with a short straw and a fat mint sprig slap it between your hands first to express its oils.
Mix This Now: Brandy cocktail recipes
As part of our look at why brandy seems to be bringing up the rear of the local, small-batch spirits craze, we put together a few cocktail ideas that incorporate the spirit.
For starters, a good mixing brandy like Raynal XO ($30) is an able stand-in for whiskey in most cocktails. Heck, even your dusty old bottle of Korbel will do a half-decent job. If you need a few suggestions to get you started, try these:
The classic Wisconsin Old Fashioned // Photo by Aaron Davidson
Wisconsin Old Fashioned
Muddle an orange wedge, maraschino cherry, sugar cube, and two dashes Angostura bitters in a lowball glass. Fill with ice, then add 2 ounces of brandy (the cheap stuff only) and top with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with another cherry and orange wedge—or skip the garnish entirely, because, let’s be honest, you’ll be making another one in about 15 minutes anyway.
This is usually made with rye whiskey, but a good brandy can handle the herbal funk of fernet with surprising grace. Try this mix—2 ounces brandy, 1⁄4 ounce Tattersall fernet, 1⁄4 ounce simple syrup, 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Use 2 ounces of cognac to 3⁄4 ounce of a good Italian sweet vermouth, with a few dashes Angostura. Stir it with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a swath of orange zest. Three options to customize the drink:
1) Add a teaspoon of rye whiskey for some nice background spice
2) Add a dash of good orange liqueur and call it a Young Man cocktail or
3) Add a dash of cherry syrup from a jar of Egbert’s Brandied Cocktail Cherries, and call yourself a wise cocktail connoisseur.
As with the Manhattan above, brandy and rye whiskey can make compelling bedfellows. With Derby Day coming up in early May, you’d best start getting your julep skills in order right away. We suggest skipping the bourbon this year make yours a Prescription Julep instead.
In a tall glass (or copper tin, if you’re fancy), muddle the leaves on a sprig of mint with 1⁄2 ounce of simple syrup, making sure only to pop the veins of the leaves, not tear them apart. The syrup should become nice and green. Discard the sprig. Add 1⁄2 ounce rye whiskey, fill the glass half-way with crushed ice, and stir until the glass begins to frost. Add 1-1⁄2 ounces brandy, fill the glass all the way with crushed ice, and stir again until good and cold. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint and a straw.
Queen’s Park Swizzle
I started writing for Esquire at the end of 1999 and worked on their drinks database. I added the Queen’s Park Swizzle, one of Trader Vic’s favorites, because I thought it was a cool, underrated drink. It’s from Trinidad, and living in Brooklyn, you feel particularly close to the island. It’s also important to me because adding it in symbolized my starting to have opinions. (Photo: kevineats.com)
Born in New Orleans in the mid-1800s at the Sazerac Coffee House, the Sazerac’s original recipe featured Cognac before phylloxera devastated vineyards across France. Always enterprising, the Americans quickly found a solution in their own backyard and began using equal parts of rye whiskey and Cognac before the brandy stocks ran completely dry, switching to straight rye. Nowadays you can order your Sazerac with any measure of both spirits, but most bars will do a mixture of Cognac and rye. We suggest a mixed version of a small amount of rye brings in a delicious spice while the Cognac rounds the cocktail out, smoothing the process from glass to stomach.
45ml Cognac / 15ml rye whiskey / 5ml absinthe (to rinse glass) / 5ml sugar syrup / 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters / 1 dash Angostura Bitters / lemon zest
*another Cognac cocktail which calls New Orleans home, the Vieux Carré, is very similar, with 20ml Cognac / 20ml rye whiskey / 20ml sweet vermouth / 1 barspoon Benedictine / 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters / 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Fish House Punch
Another cocktail hailing from across the pond – Philadelphia, to be precise – it dates to the 1800s and was traditionally drunk from flowing bowls of mixed punch although can be made to individual portions served long over crushed ice. Combining Cognac with Jamaican rum, peach liqueur, lemon juice and sugar syrup, this cocktail has rich notes of fruit and citrus.
20ml Cognac / 20ml Jamaican rum / 10ml peach liqueur / 10ml lime juice / 10ml lemon juice / 15ml sugar syrup / 5ml peach puree / grated nutmeg for garnish
Finally – a cocktail using French brandy with its origins firmly in France. Or perhaps London. But who’s counting? We know it gained popularity in Harry’s Bar in Paris at the end of World War I and we can picture the scene of glamorous Parisians in 1920s’ get-up, waltzing with Sidecars in hand. If you’re just getting into Cognac cocktails, the Sidecar is a superb way in after all, it’s essentially a Cognac Sour which uses orange liqueur instead of sugar – exactly as a Margarita does. Serve with a half-rim of sugar.
50ml Cognac / 20ml triple sec / 20ml lemon juice
*add 15ml Benedictine and lower the triple sec down to 15ml and the Cognac to 40ml and you’ll have a Between The Sheets.
The Cognac region is famous for its peaceful beauty
There are countless rifts on Julep recipes, but this is surely the best, with its subtle spice from rye whisky and a blast of chilled smooth Cognac rounded with aromatic orange bitters. It’s sharp, cold and elegant – everything a cocktail should be. Juleps were traditionally medicinal and considered quite separate from the fun frippery of cocktails which is why the name of the Cognac Julep gives a knowing wink to that original reason to imbibe.
35ml Cognac / 35ml rye whiskey / 8 mint leaves / 5ml honey syrup (1:1 honey and water mix) / 5ml sugar syrup
Deceptively named – hint, there’s no coffee – this delicious dessert-style drink is essentially a Cognac Flip using both the yolk and white of an egg which is first shaken without ice to emulsify, giving the cocktail that moreish, fluffy texture associated with Sours and Flips. It’s been shaken up to resemble a caffeinated beverage since Jerry Thomas penned his 1887 Bartender’s Guide and is still as tasty today.
40ml Cognac / 25ml port / 10ml sugar syrup/ 1 whole egg
WM Farmer & Sons' Prescription Julep Recipe
Over the past decade, the craft cocktail movement has enjoyed a rousing resurgence. The return to pre-Prohibition-style, artisanal drink-making is thanks in no small part to Sasha Petraske, founder of the legendary Manhattan bar Milk & Honey and author of Regarding Cocktails. Petraske's exacting approach set the tenor for a new generation of bars the nation over.
The last project Petraske worked on before passing away in 2015 was the bar program at WM Farmer & Sons in Hudson, a boutique hotel and rustic-chic restaurant on Hudson's Front Street. "One of our guiding philosophies is to work with people who are masters of their craft," says Kristan Keck, co-owner of WMFS. "Sasha was incredibly fastidious and particular. He loved simplicity, keeping things as basic and true as possible. His whole thing was juicing daily and making the freshest cocktail possible."
After Petraske's death, his business partner and longtime friend Richie Boccato took over the bar program. "Sasha built it, but Richie has really nurtured it and cared for it like his own," Keck says. While Petraske favored whiskey, Boccato leans toward rum. In the coming months, WM Farmer & Sons will debut a new rum room. "Richie has this infectious affinity for rum," Keck says. "This will be a nice way to share that."
In honor of the Kentucky Derby, here is WM Farmer & Sons' chosen julep variation—with a rum float. "The original mint julep was made circa 1790," says head bartender Sean Meagher. "Ours is adapted from a recipe found in an 1857 issue of Harper's Monthly. Rye and cognac work side by side in this split-based cocktail, and the rum float adds a vegetal note that plays well with the spice from the rye."
A Prescription Julep substitutes rum for whiskey. Photograph: Alamy
Most of us today think whiskey when we think of a julep. To split the difference between the old (18th century) and modern (19th century) styles of the drink, try this recipe from 1857, which employs both whiskey and brandy, and adds a dash of rum for good measure.
Barspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)
Combine the mint leaves and syrup in the bottom of a chilled silver julep cup and gently muddle the leaves. Add crushed ice until the glass is one-third full. Add the Cognac and rye and stir. Add more ice. Stir again, until the sides of the cup frost over. Top with the remainder of crushed ice. Top mounded ice with a barspoon of dark rum. Garnish with a large sprig of mint. Add straw.
10 Cognac Cocktail Recipes to Make Now
Forget champagne. Another one of France’s finest imports is pure gold. READ: Rye Whiskey Makes a Comeback Cognac or “the king of brandies,” isn’t just an aged spirit to sip. Produced in the Charente region, Cognac is a rich, warm, comforting drink, both smooth and earthy. Unlike brandy, this spirit can only receive the covet Cognac label if it’s produced within this specific area of western France, all while undergoing a rigorous process of distilling and aging in wood barrels. “As the saying goes, all Cognac is brandy but not all brandy is Cognac,” states a report from American University. “Cognac is a distilled (eau-de-vie) made from fermented white grapes, and aged for at least two years.” And while this fine elixir is best savored alone, it’s also beginning to brighten up cocktails. READ: Small-Batch Bourbons You Need to Try Now “Cognac is a cornerstone of any classic cocktail bar,” explains Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, co-author of “The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails.” “Today, many people imagine Cognac as a rich man’s tipple, only to be enjoyed from a balloon snifter while sitting next to a roaring fire with a dog by your side. It’s a nice image, but it neglects Cognac’s place behind the bar.” “Since the first cocktail manual from 150 years ago, Cognac and its brandy cousins have served as the basis for countless cocktails, such as the timeless Old Fashioned or the Sidecar,” she adds. “So why drink Cognac? If you’re a bourbon or amber rum drinker, Cognac offers similar levels of sweetness, vanilla, and unmistakable oak-aging. In fact, flexibility -- the ability to stand in for other dark spirits, particularly bourbon and rum -- is one of Cognac’s defining features.” While crisp gin or fruity dark rum are ideal for the balmy spring and summer months, mixologists have discovered a variety of ways to shake up new and classic cocktail recipes with a serving of this welcoming spirit. READ: Cocktails You Need to Make Now For some inspiration, here are 10 tasty, noteworthy recipes to try: