Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Basil Cranberry Julep

Basil Cranberry Julep

The Mint Julep may be a classic, but it isn't really a cocktail I crave very often. It's just so very sweet, without much to balance it out. I used to think I'd only ever want one during the Kentucky Derby; I've been forced to amend that statement after a visit to Houmas House Plantation outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where we sipped Mint Juleps while touring the beautiful gardens at sunset. A Mint Julep can be perfect in the right setting.

Despite my Mint Julep misgivings, I like the idea of trying some variations on the simple mint-sugar-bourbon mixture, and this one from Nick Caruana of The Straight Up looked like a perfect candidate. It swaps out the mint for basil, the bourbon for mezcal, and the plain simple syrup for a cranberry syrup, which I already had made up for my Autumn Cranberry Old Fashioned.

Like a traditional Mint Julep, this cocktail dances dangerously close to being too sweet. The mezcal really helps provide some balance in this respect, as does the slight tartness of the cranberry syrup. It's still not my favorite, but I'm really glad I made it. One of the most remarkable things about it is how very much like a julep it tastes, even with its unique ingredients. I could definitely find a situation or two in which this would be the perfect cocktail to sip. Nick points out that Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo usually fall quite close together - I think I know what I'll be drinking this year.

Basil Cranberry Julep

Basil Cranberry Julep

2 oz. mezcal
1 oz. cranberry syrup*
1/4 oz. agave nectar
6 basil leaves

Add basil leaves and agave nectar to the bottom of a julep cup and muddle gently. Add the mezcal and cranberry syrup. Fill the cup with crushed ice, mounding it on top. Garnish with two basil leaves and some fresh cranberries, if desired. Drizzle about 1/4 oz. cranberry syrup on top.

*For cranberry syrup, Nick recommends reducing cranberry juice in a saucepan and adding sugar. You can also simmer fresh cranberries in equal parts water and sugar until they begin to break down. Crush them with a spoon and then strain the syrup. Either way, let it cool completely before using.

Recipe from The Straight Up.

1 comment :

  1. That looks so interesting! I've never played with a julep recipe but you can bet I'm going to start with yours.