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re: ice crushing, the suggestions up thread for a canvas bag and a big mallet are pretty much state of the art as far as i've found. just take care with the whacking after a couple rounds. it's painfully easy to end up with a sore finger the next morning. i know i'll be nursing mine.

 

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Made my first Juleps on Saturday. Had problems with crushing the ice. I had a rubber mallet (probably the problem) and it just didn't cut it. The ice just wouldn't pulverize. I was using kold draft shaped cubes (from those silicone forms). The neighbors must have wondered what on earth was going on. So I just cracked the ice with a spoon. My guests liked them well enough, although not being used to bourbon (Eagle Rare 10yr) , couldn't handle more than one.

Edited by MattJohnson (log)
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that's funny, i use a 32 oz rubber mallet and can get pretty close to snow with no problem. was yours smaller? also, i've found that i can be a little hesitant about pounding away on the kitchen counter, so sometimes i'll take the bag outside on the patio where i guess i'm less inhibited.

 

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Here's what I use:

Grizzly 4 1/2" Mallet

It pretty much reduces the ice--any kind of ice--to snow in no time flat. But yes, you do have to use a firm surface. And you'll need a good scoop to get the stuff out of the bag, as it tends to clump up.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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that's funny, i use a 32 oz rubber mallet and can get pretty close to snow with no problem. was yours smaller? also, i've found that i can be a little hesitant about pounding away on the kitchen counter, so sometimes i'll take the bag outside on the patio where i guess i'm less inhibited.

I think I just got skittish about doing it on the counter. Had I done it out on the patio, I bet it would have worked. I'll give it another go.

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I get some fine crushed ice, but still have lots and lots of large pieces.  There must be another way.

I'm having the same problem. Does anyone have tips on getting consistently-sized crushed ice?

The trick is to use a large mallet like Splificator linked to above.

Trying to use a muddler or spoon or anything else without a large flat surface will result in inconsistent sized shards.

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  • 10 months later...

First Julep of the season. A Prescription Julep with old-school fancy garnish.

2/3 Louis Royer Force 53 Cognac, 1/3 Rittenhouse BIB, float of Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum, sugar, mint.

gallery_8505_276_46975.jpg

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I'm not aware of any other high-proof cognac that can be had at a reasonable price. The high proof imo makes a big difference in 19th century cocktails. If we assume that cognac comes out of the barrel at 70% abv (that's the proof at which it goes in to the barrels), then 53% cognac like Force 53 is cut down with an additional 32% of water whereas the typical 40% cognacs are cut down with an additional 75% of water. So, in order to get the same amount of flavor, you would have to use around one-third more of the 40% cognac.

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  • 3 months later...

I was wandering around the Farmer's market this morning, and I spotted a selection of different mints at one of the stands. They had spearmint, chocolate mint, and bergamont mint. After tasting and smelling each of them I grabbed the chocolate mint with a julep in mind. Normally I just use the generic chinese market mint up the street, so this was the first experimentation part: novel mint.

I needed lemons and limes, and being in Northern California I don't exactly see great variants of that at the farmer's market for the most part, so I stopped by the little produce market on my way home. While i was there getting my lemons and limes I saw panela, and thought I would make aqua panela with it.

So I get home, and start the fun process of picking a small solid block of ice I keep in a sandwich container in the freezer for just this occasion. Takes quite a while, I need to come up with a better crushing solution, but that's another story.

Basically I muddled the chocolate mint with panela, instead of plain sugar like I usually use, addded the ice and bourbon, into my julep cup, and got the cone effect going on.

I'm just sipping on it now, and I thought the idea of subtle variations on a theme was an interesting one. If you put a bunch of extra stuff in it, it's not really a mint julep anymore, but if you tweak the ingredients slightly what interesting things can you do? I've considered making a thai basil julep before once or twice as well.

Here's my bad cellphone picture. I'm holding the plate up while taking it, which is why it's a little off.

julep.jpg

What other subtle variations have people tried and enjoyed in their cocktails?

Edited by Alex Botero-Lowry (log)
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have you tried a peach smash? Its basically a mint julep with 1/2 a peach muddled in at the beginning - very good!

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I can't say that I think any mint other than plain old Mentha spicata (spearmint) represents an improvement.

"Chocolate mint," by the way, is a cultivar of Mentha piperita, aka peppermint.

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What other subtle variations have people tried and enjoyed in their cocktails?

I occasionally make simple syrup from a light brownish-color cane sugar we get here in Phoenix that's made in Mexico. It's not brown sugar or turbinado, just a less refined sugar -a bit like old-time loaf sugar. I like to imagine that my drinks taste a bit more like Jerry Thomas' this way.

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What other subtle variations have people tried and enjoyed in their cocktails?

I occasionally make simple syrup from a light brownish-color cane sugar we get here in Phoenix that's made in Mexico. It's not brown sugar or turbinado, just a less refined sugar -a bit like old-time loaf sugar. I like to imagine that my drinks taste a bit more like Jerry Thomas' this way.

Sounds like panela: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panela :)

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What other subtle variations have people tried and enjoyed in their cocktails?

I occasionally make simple syrup from a light brownish-color cane sugar we get here in Phoenix that's made in Mexico. It's not brown sugar or turbinado, just a less refined sugar -a bit like old-time loaf sugar. I like to imagine that my drinks taste a bit more like Jerry Thomas' this way.

Sounds like panela: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panela :)

Not quite. The stuff I use is just marked 'cane sugar' but is granular and light brown, with no stickiness. But now that you've reminded me that the local marked carries panela, syrup made from that is next up in my rotation! Thanks!

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The problem with this is that it seems, in theory at least, to be such a good idea. Except in practice it just doesn't work that way. I was in a Mojito competition a while back and was thrilled that my friend (a former sous chef I'd worked with before) who now runs and herb and flower stand, was at my local farmer's market with absolutely drop dead gorgeous Pineapple mint. He brought me a big bunch just before the competition. And for as aesthetically beautiful and gorgeously scented that mint was, once it was muddled it tasted like the clippings out of a lawn mower bag. I'm convinced it's one of the reasons I did so poorly at that competition.

I have to agree with Sam. Spearmint is the way to go. Thai Basil is lovely in cocktails, and something I use with frequency, but not in a Julep. It does make for a nice variant of a Gin-gin Mule, however.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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To my mind, the more interesting direction to go if one would like to branch out in the Julep category is to step away from the hegemony of bourbon and explore other base spirits. The Prescription Julep is always a winner, especially if you can get Louis Royer Force 53 (106 proof cognac). I have made and enjoyed Juleps with aged rum, tequila, London dry gin, Old Tom gin, and one of my favorites is a Julep with genever.

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The Julep is generally what I turn to when the bartender asks if I want to try their new signature single-barrel bottling of whatever (Buffalo Trace, Elmer T. Lee, etc.). For all the "throw out the rest and drink the bourbon" talk, a julep is an excellent window into the soul of a spirit.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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