Watching Big Brown destroy the field a couple of weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby inspired me to go out and buy The Mrs. a big hat and myself a bottle of bourbon. On the way home I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some fresh mint and promptly mixed a few classic mint juleps.
It happens every racing season: Spring fever fills the air, the grill becomes the kitchen and out come the shakers. And with Memorial Day on the horizon, we have even more reason to shake and stir up a few all-American favorites.
In the past, I've even cooked with bourbon and made troughs of burgoo, the meaty, slow-cooked stew of Kentucky. Not exactly sure what we'll cook for this Memorial Day, but you can bet there will be a few summery cocktails involved.
I recently read about a variation on a traditional Long Island iced tea (vodka, rum, tequila, gin, sweet and sour mix, and cola) called Long Island Green Tea that I must try.
The folks at the Food Network came up with this one, and it's pure genius: 2 ounces green tea vodka (yes, another flavored vodka), combined with fresh lemon juice, orange liqueur, rum and a splash of simple syrup poured over ice into a Collins glass. It sounds refreshing and almost healthy. How about Long Island Green Teas with grilled chicken skewers? Sounds like a winner.
Anyhow, have fun and be safe this Memorial Day. Remember that heat and alcohol are not friends. Invite some friends and family over this weekend, fire up the barbecue and create new memories. Here are a few seasonal cocktails to fuel the conversation.
3 ounces bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
4 sprigs of mint
Preparation: Place two sprigs of mint and sugar in bottom of old-fashioned glass and muddle (crush with bartender muddler or handler of wooden spoon). Fill glass with crushed ice, add bourbon, stir and garnish with remaining mint.
2 cups silver rum
24 mint sprigs
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
Club soda or sparkling water
Preparation: Place mint sprigs and syrup in bottom of pitcher and muddle to release oils in the mint. Add rum and juice and stir. Fill rest of the pitcher with club soda and stir. At service, fill a Collins glass with ice and fill with mixture. Garnish with lime wedge.
1 cup light style Mexican beer such as Carta Blanca or Modelo Especial
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes hot sauce, Tabasco or Louisiana style depending on preference
Preparation: Moisten rim of beer glass with lime wedge and dip into plate of salt. Squeeze lime wedges of juice into glass and drop wedges into glass. Add Worcestershire and hot sauces into glass. Fill glass with ice, top off with beer and stir.
SAN FRANCISCO SOUR
3 ounces bourbon
1 ounce grenadine
2 ounces lime juice
1 ounce lemon juice
Lemon twist for garnish
Preparation: Combine bourbon, grenadine and lime and lemon juices in a shaker with ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a cooler glass filled with ice and top with club soda. Gently stir and garnish with lemon twist.
FROZEN STRAWBERRY MARGARITA
6 ounces tequila
3 ounces orange liqueur
3 ounces fresh lime juice
3 ounces sour mix
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup ice cubes
Fresh strawberries and lime wedges for garnish
Preparation: Combine tequila, liqueur, juice, mix, strawberries and cubes into a blender and whip until smooth. Add ice as needed to thicken. Moisten rim of margarita or red wine glasses with lime wedge and dip into plate of salt. Fill glasses and garnish with fresh strawberry and lime wedge.