Something very peculiar has been going on in Portland, OR. Summer has not yet officially arrived, and yet, here I sit, in a skirt and sandals. It’s unheard of. Generally, everyone who has lived here for a full four seasons knows that summer—real summer, with days so hot you start longing for your very own swimming pool and personal palm frond-waver—does not arrive until after July 4th. Until then, it’s going to be 60 degrees, rainy, and every morning you will wake up and wonder why in the world you are living in a place that forces you to wear your winter boots in June.
At the risk of jinxing all the lovely weather we’ve been having, I have taken to dusting off all of our summer goods and defiantly setting them outdoors while I declare the official start to what I like to refer to as Hammock Season. Hammock Season is exactly what it sounds like: it is the season for laying outdoors in a hammock, book in hand, cocktail at the ready, while you leisurely sway about and wish that you had remembered to slather on some sunscreen (because once you’re in that hammock, nothing—not even the threat of accidentally allowing yourself to be burned an unappealing shade of lobster red—is ever able to get you out of it).
An added bonus of having such unseasonably warm weather is the unexpected flourishing of our garden’s mint. I’ve taken to using that mint to flavor nearly everything in sight, from sauces to syrups, and now, as required by Hammock Season, I am using it as a base for refreshing cocktails. I love a classic mint julep but, never one to leave well enough alone, I have always felt like its required sweetness might benefit from a little extra zing to help bring the sweet notes down and the woodsy bourbon notes a little higher. The ginger-infused syrup, so kicky and spicy, that I made for this cocktail is just the ticket to take a mint julep to another level of refreshing. It’s a classic made anew, and, even if the warm weather doesn’t last, I think it just might be my go-to cocktail from now until boot weather returns.
Ginger Mint Julep
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup very thinly-sliced fresh ginger root (you can peel the ginger before slicing if you wish, but it’s not necessary)
a small handful of fresh mint leaves
2 ounces bourbon
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Over medium heat, stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and the liquid appears as though it is just about to start simmering. Remove from heat, add the sliced ginger, and allow to steep for two hours, stirring occasionally. After two hours, drain the syrup through a colander, discarding the ginger pieces.
In a 12-ounce glass or jar, combine about a dozen large leaves of fresh mint with a handful of ice and 2 tablespoons of the ginger syrup. Using a muddler, or the handle of a wooden spoon, muddle the mint leaves, ginger syrup, and ice together until the mint is pulverized and the ice has melted a bit. Pour bourbon over the mixture, add a bit more ice to top off the glass, and stir to combine. Tear some additional mint leaves over the top of the drink, then serve.
Makes 1 drink. Syrup recipe makes a little over 1 cup of syrup, enough for roughly 8-10 drinks. Syrup can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|