Jun 30 2012

mint julep (perfected)

Mint Julep

No, mint juleps are not just for the Kentucky Derby. It’s a terrible, terrible misconception that they are. First of all, they are made with bourbon. And secondly, they are packed with mint and ice, making them fabulously refreshing in every sense of the word. The sad thing is that it wasn’t until this year’s Derby that I suddenly realized all of this.

mint simple syrup

Mint Julep

How did I suddenly come to see the light? Well, in early May I posted the mint julep recipe that I made last year for the Kentucky Derby and shortly afterwards received an e-mail from my sister-in-law’s mother with her family’s recipe. And ladies and gentlemen, when you get a recipe for mint julep from a woman like Debbie Farmer you better listen up. Debbie is many wonderful things, including an excellent cook and a fabulous host and it just so happens that she hails from Kentucky. So this year we made Debbie’s recipe for the Derby and after just one sip I was completely smitten. I declared right then and there that mint juleps should be enjoyed all summer long.

Mint Julep

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May 5 2012

mint julep

Mint Julep

I don’t think I had ever paid any attention to the Kentucky Derby until maybe five years ago when Joseph and I just happened to be in Brooklyn the same weekend as the Derby. We were staying with Mark and Jordan, my brother-in-law and his wife, and they didn’t yet have their two beautiful little girls. Some of Jordan’s family comes from Kentucky and the Derby is a pretty big deal for her – I would guess sort of akin to St. Patrick’s day for my family. They were throwing a small party in its honor and I’m sure they had some really great food, but to be honest, I don’t remember it. What I do remember are the mint juleps.

Just as I had never watched the Kentucky Derby, I had never had a mint julep. The idea of mint and bourbon seemed just a little strange to me (who knows what I was thinking because I do like mojitos), but one sip and I was completely sold. And one minute of watching all the hats and hoopla of the Kentucky Derby and I was sold on that too. And so a tradition was born. Now every year I sit with my mint julep and watch the hats, um, I meant the horses.

Mint Julep

I actually took these pictures last year, before Joseph got me my great Boston double old fashioned glasses. I was excited to share my love of mint juleps, but then I realized that there was really no point in sharing a recipe for mint juleps after the Kentucky Derby. This year I’m just barely getting it in in time, but hopefully you can still grab some mint and bourbon and enjoy!

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May 2 2012

best margaritas ever (freshly squeezed!)

Growing up, my family had several traditions varying from reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve to eating pizza and renting a movie every Friday night. Now that my sister and I have grown up and moved out, the big tradition is going to one of our two favorite Mexican restaurants (they’re actually owned by the same people and have the exact same menu) and getting a pitcher of frozen margaritas. It’s pretty much a given that if my sister and I are both in DC at the same time (which frankly, doesn’t happen nearly enough), we will all go out to Cactus Cantina or Lauriol Plaza and enjoy a nice salt-rimmed glass or two of ice cold margaritas.

Fresh Margarita

My brother-in-law gave me his super simple and tasty recipe for margaritas and up until a few months ago, it was my go-to recipe for when I was craving a margarita. But I’ve always wondered: what would a margarita made completely from scratch taste like? Well, when I saw that Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe for fresh margaritas, I didn’t have to wonder any more. If the fine folks at Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe they were going to stand behind, well, I had to try it.

Their recipe uses fresh lemon and lime juice, zest, sugar, salt, triple sec, and of course tequila, and that’s it. Completely natural. And so totally delicious. To make sure the drink is packed with enough citrus flavor, they have you steep the lemon and lime juice with both lemon and lime zest for up to 24 hours.

Best Margaritas Ever

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Mar 17 2012

irish coffee

Irish Coffee

My sister sent me an article from the New York Times the other day that lamented the “disreputable image of a mongrel” that Irish coffee has earned itself. What? Irish coffee, a mongrel? Really? I have only the highest respect for Irish coffee, and this was news to me. I figured the very least I could do in the name of Irish coffee was to profess my love for it here and spread the word for this simple but tasty after dinner drink (or mid-afternoon or morning, or whenever you like to drink your coffee and whiskey).

Brown Sugar for Irish Coffee

Whiskey and Brown Sugar for Irish Coffee

I’m not sure why, but I was a little skeptical when my sister and brother-in-law first served me an Irish coffee a few years ago. Any doubt I had vanished after my first sip. Even though I wasn’t really a coffee drinker, the concoction of coffee, whiskey, the slightest bit of brown sugar, and whipped cream was more than enough to win me over.

Irish Coffee

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