Upon hearing of my ginger mint julep trials, my friend Coach recommended that I infuse the bourbon with the ginger. Coach doesn’t talk much, but usually when he does he is almost always spot on. On this recommendation I dropped a bunch of slices of ginger in the remaining bourbon. I hid the new ginger bourbon in the back of the bar and did my best to wait a week. And came up with three more ways to try to get that ginger flavor.
Using regular bourbon, I followed the original recipe, but with one little twist. I added pickled ginger with the mint and muddled both. As horrific as it sounds, the pickled ginger didn’t modify the taste much, if at all. There is one positive if you liked pickled ginger, you end the drink with some delicious pickled ginger with a kick. Still not a real ginger mint julep.
I followed the original recipe, but I used Coach’s ginger bourbon. What I got out of this recipe was a “soft” mint julep. It was a mint julep where the edges had been sanded into rounded corners. Still no pop of ginger, but there was certainly more ginger in the mix.
I followed the original recipe, but I used Coach’s ginger bourbon with one more twist. I subbed out 1/2 part (of the 3 parts) of Coach’s bourbon for 1/2 part of Canton. What evolved was a drink that Cupcake finally liked, but was not a mint julep of any kind. Not even of the ginger variety. It was a whole new drink, a refreshing, goes down easy great for summer drink, but certainly not a mint julep.
Sitting with my final attempt at a ginger mint julep and contemplating what I thought had been a failure of an experiment, I tried to figure out what my next move was going to be. How was I going to get that ginger kick? I thought back to the Emerson’s picture that started it all. I thought of the puffing at the bottom of the ad, “Delicious * Refreshing * Quenches Thirst.” Then I thought of Cupcake’s and my earlier experiments with Canton. As I said of Canton at the time, “I’ve come to think of Canton like a ginger flavored scrubber. Canton polishes the edges of the ingredients you’re using, taking any harshness out–giving a nice smooth drink.”
So when I thought I had failed, I think I actually succeeded in capturing the spirit of the Emerson’s ginger mint julep with new recipe #2. Thanks to Coach’s ginger bourbon, I hit on a mint julep drink that was delicious, refreshing, and quenched my thirst. Recipe #2 also polished the edge of a mint julep, taking the harshness out. And with that I took my final sip of a true ginger mint julep.
*****A special thanks on all this must go to Cupcake. She hates mint juleps, yet tasted all of the variations that I’ve made trying to get this right. Sure I taste all the stuff that she experiments with, but I like everything she makes so it’s no big deal for me.