I’ve loved seeing the mutability of cocktails simply by changing the spirit during these Friday Cocktail Hour posts. This cocktail is in effect a Mint Julep only with rum, therefore called a Mojito. Of course what also distinguishes the mojito from the julep is the lime juice and sugar, the intense sweet and sour. So, does that mean it’s like a whisky sour with mint and rum? Yes, but no egg white. Or like a daiquiri without the mint? All of the above! Regardless, this is a fabulous cocktail to make in the summer when the mint is taking over the garden and the heat calls out for a cooling rum drink. Again, I love the effect of the pulverized mint, the powerful minty flavor it brings to the sweet/sour lime, and the vivid, good-for-you greenness. Old school Read On »

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Last week’s cocktail post, The Moscow Mule, allowed me to show off OYO, the awesome Columbus, Ohio, vodka by Middle West Spirits, but it also got me thinking about how cool ginger beer is. It also demonstrates how specific drinks are defined by the spirit used. The Manhattan, made with American whiskey, becomes a Rob Roy when made with scotch (not a “scotch Manhattan”). A Martini made with vodka becomes a Kangaroo (not a “vodka martini”). Swap out the vodka in a Moscow Mule and you don’t have a “rum Moscow Mule,” you have a Dark and Stormy. (I don’t know if this is an official cocktail, but it’s great from a taste standpoint, noted by a commenter: make a Dark and Stormy with Maker’s Mark instead of rum and you have a “Mark and Read On »

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By request and for my own curiosity, for my fascination with ginger beer, and most, my compulsion to SCREAM … indoor voice, Michael … deep breath … if you’re going to drink vodka, either admit you simply want to mainline alcohol (not a judgment! I’m there frequently myself!), or drink vodka that actually has flavor, such Ohio’s own OYO made from soft red winter wheat grown near its Columbus distillery. The Standard Bartender’s Guide, revised and enlarged by James A. Beard (originally published in 1940, before the Moscow Mule existed), instructs simply this: “Squeeze into a 12-ounce glass 1/2 Lime and drop in the Rind. Add ice cubes and 1-1/2 jiggers Vodka and fill with Ginger Beer. Stir and serve.” How easy is that?! (Verdict: cool, light, and very refreshing!) From the VTR menu: “Born of Read On »

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My first mint julep was made for me by a guy who remains one of my dearest friends and confidants. We were wayward, then, but he has gone on to be a talented and superlative writer, generally. Having at the time (1987) a Kentucky girlfriend and having recently spent four years at Tulane, he knew his juleps. The night ended badly. Blown speakers at my girlfriend’s apartment and roof tar all over her nice wood floors—she was pissed, and I staggered out into the early spring sunshine. On the subway home the next morning from 110th and Amsterdam to 39th and 1st—wouldn’t you know it—I heard, “Michael?!” An old high school girlfriend had spotted me, my first kiss actually, and still dear friend. She picked lint out of my unshaved face and, with concern and disappointment, Read On »

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