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May 01

Derby Days: Mint Julep

Back in March – Wine Festival week, to be exact – Kevin and I took a Bartending 102 class from Josh Durr at Tonic. We learned how to make mint juleps and I ran right home and wrote up this post. (I purposely held it for Derby week. Why am I burying it on a Saturday? Long story.)

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

The most important thing I learned from Josh in this particular session was that, with a mint julep, the method is more important than the ingredients.

Place the mint in the bottom of the cup.

Pour in 1/2 oz of maple syrup.
We used this in place of simple syrup and I really loved the results.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

Add 1 oz of Bourbon.
I believe we used Ancient Ancient Age in the classroom, but pick your favorite. Josh also suggested Old Grand-Dad and Old Weller.

Roll the muddler on the mint, rolling towards the top of the glass. Make sure to get the oils on the rim on the glass.
This takes a certain amount of technique, as I learned. Don’t pound on the mint either – you want the mint to be minty, and pounding? Well that just makes it bitter.

Next, crush your ice.
I used an old fashioned ice crusher Josh had handy. I swear my grandma had one on her bar and I loved it. Kevin pounded away on a bag of ice with the muddler. Both methods are valid.

Photo Credit : Bruce Crippen | Business Courier

Add crushed ice to your glass until it is filled just under the edge.

Stir, pulling up from the bottom of the glass.

Next, add another 1 oz of bourbon.

Add a second layer of ice, so that it sort of resembles the shape of a sno-cone.

Garnish with 2 short straws and a sprig of mint.

Honestly, this made one of the best mint juleps I’ve ever had. What was even more surprising was that I made it myself! I know it sounds easy in the directions, but the technique – especially with muddling – is tricky to get the hang of.

Happy Derby Day!

Photos from Business Courier article about our class, by photographer Bruce Crippen.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:51 am in Cocktails | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jan 27

Cocktails: The Perfect Manhattan

In the class we took from Josh Durr, he made us each a Manhattan. Now, the Manhattan is my favorite cocktail, but I’ve had a lot of horrible versions, both locally and when we travel. In Vancouver, I ordered a Manhattan and had the worst drink of my life – and I’m still not sure what all he put in it. At several local bars, the bourbon and vermouth are often low-end, the drink is filled with floating ice chips, and bitters aren’t even added. Sigh.

So Josh’s Manhattan was a breath of fresh air for me – it was something out of the stylized Mad Men. Because of this class, I’m now very specific with my Manhattan order: “Four Roses or Woodford Manhattan, up, and stirred please.”

  • 1 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • Dashes of Angostura bitters (or home made)

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sounds easy, right? Josh commented that you should always use high-quality bourbon, vermouth, and bitters. He goes so far as to make his own tinctures, including bitters, but we aren’t all so dedicated. An interesting tip is that you can replace the vermouth with Elderflower liqueur for a twist on the classic Manhattan.

When you stir the Manhattan, consistently and quietly stir to chill down the drink. Josh recommended making the drink in a pint glass and pouring it out through a double-strainer.

It was good folks. Really really good.

Photo from Flickr user ginsnob
via Creative Commons

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Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Cocktails | Permalink | Comments (4)
Jan 26

Molecular Bartending Class with Josh Durr

It’s Cocktail Week here at My Wine Education. I know, we love wine. And next week you’ll be getting a slew of wine reviews. But this week, in honor of my second trip to Las Vegas in a month, it’s all cocktails. Enjoy!

Back in December, Kevin and I were lucky enough to take a class at The Party Source from Josh Durr. Josh is the cocktail consultant who helped put together Tonic on 4th, including creating the drink menu and ice program. Josh is from Louisville, where he is a partner in Molecular Bartending, LLC. He has created cocktails for Brown-Forman, Southern Wine & Spirits, Republic National Beverage, and, of course, Tonic.

The class was geared toward the professional, although everyone present was a consumer, with the exception of everyone’s favorite local bartender, Molly Wellman. And really, I think Molly was just there to have fun – she already rocks at all of this stuff. The rest of us? We eagerly asked all manner of questions and drank some rather flawless cocktails.

A few key notes I scribbled down:

  • Buy Carpano vermouth; it’s the original vermouth. If your vermouth smells musty, it’s bad. Keep it refrigerated when not in use. Keep in mind that vermouth is 75% wine, so it will oxidize.
  • Cold draft ice is perfectly square and dense. Yep, Tonic makes their own ice – check out your cubes next time you’re there. Josh even brought his own ice to The Party Source. He recommends using filtered or distilled water, double-boiled, and frozen in stainless or non-absorbent containers, not silicone. To top that off, he suggests you have an ice-only freezer and when storing your ice behind the bar, don’t stack the cubes on top of each other. Separate them in layers instead. I know it seems like a lot of trouble for your home, but it works great in a bar.
  • When muddling mint, get the oils out by squishing, not tenderizing. That’s right; if you pulverize your mint with the muddler, you’ll just bring out the bitterness.
  • Some basic bartending tools include a Boston shaker (tin to tin chills faster), an OXO measuring cup, and a double strainer.
  • A Punch will always include 5 ingredients: strong, weak, sour, sweet, and spice to make it nice.
  • Don’t shake your Manhattans – stir them.

Overall, I left the class very excited about Tonic. I love classic cocktails and really, I’ve had some horrible Manhattans. I’ll be reviewing Tonic later this week. My thanks to Josh for an amazing class! I’ll be publishing some of his cocktail recipes over the next few days, starting with the Manhattan.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:11 am in Cocktails | Permalink | Comments (11)

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