And what a spring it has been! With the media circus surrounding Drumpf and the Bernie/Hillary showdown, its easy to lose track of the other cool spring stuff that has been going on around us. As you know we are big fans of seasonal transitions up in here, and are finally celebrating Spring's bold mike-drop on the last vestiges of winter.
So what's on tap this season? The first order of business is clawing back the dignity of fashionable drinking from St. Pat's Day and Cinco de Drinko. A fine rebuttal to these binge-and-purge fiascos is to explore the more dignified side of spring imbibing.
First up, since I am writing from deep within the bowels of a town steeped in horse racing culture, let's tackle the Mint Julep. This grand champion of giant antebellum porches is a southern bourgeoise icon, Kentucky Derby staple, and sure sign the spring is in full bloom. Like all great classics this refined gentleman is plagued by controversy, most of which is just arrogant clownsmanship. Must it be served in a silver cup (that's not silver-plated, mind you)? Need the iced be pulverized to the downy white consistency of new-fallen snow, and garnished by mint from the lace-fingered hand of a virgin southern-belle? Only if you are an asshole. Or Colonel Sanders.
Fortunately for sane, reasonable people everywhere the Mint Julep staples - mint, sugar, bourbon, crushed ice - combine quite admirably under a variety of different proportions, and are very forgiving when combined together on a hot day. What's even better is that this cocktail requires virtually no effort. You aren't even supposed to mix it, otherwise it is ruined. You need only follow a few guiding principles when drafting this classic:
- Use a cask-strength bourbon. You'll need something with a little backbone to stand up to all that crushed ice.
- Take it easy on the mint. If you crush the shit out if it, mint gets bitter and gross. Gently press it or slap the mint leaves to express the oil. Welcome to flavor country.
- Use crushed ice. If you have been looking for an excuse to buy a Lewis Bag and the Mai Tai wasn't enough to move you, time to get nuts. Cubes are just too big to make this thing work. Part of the charm of this drink is savoring of the slow changes brought on by the melting process, so at least pretend to care.
- Pinkies out!
That's really it, and guess what? Tastes great out of a glass.
The second seasonal treat that should not be overlooked is the annual appearance of Maibock style beers from your local craft establishment. In addition to the beauties from the lager kings over in Germany, there are a ton of American breweries that make a decent showing.
Narragansett, Jack's Abbey and Berkshire Brewing to name a few. The style is best represented by strong, light-colored lagers that were traditionally favored by Bavarians during the transition from the bleak winters to the long hot summers. There's some pagan may-day shit with goats thrown in that I don't really get, but you can Google it yourself. Suffice it to say, the beers are delicious and classy this time of year. So go get a six pack and class up your neighborhood, because it is 1700 somewhere.