Then comes the zenith of man

This is a beautiful poem on the "Mint Julep" written by an American journalist in the Lexington times in the 19th century in the States. I heard it on a webcast by Chris McMillan, ace American mixologist from the Renaissance -New Orleans. Upon contacting him, he was kind enough to send me this poem , which I could not get on the internet after all the world`s searching. Here it goes:

“Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure.
Then comes the julep ­­– the mint julep.
Who has not tasted one has lived in vain.
The honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul;
the nectar of the gods is tame beside it.
It is the very dream of drinks,
the vision of sweet quaffings.

The Bourbon and the mint are lovers.
In the same land they live,
on the same food are they fostered.
The mint dips its infant leaf
into the same stream
that makes the Bourbon what it is.
The corn grows in the level lands
through which small streams meander.
By the brook-side the mint grows.
As the little wavelets pass,
they glide up to kiss the feet of the growing mint,
and the mint bends to salute them.
Gracious and kind it is,
living only for the sake of others.
Like a woman’s heart
it gives its sweetest aroma when bruised.
Among the first to greet the spring, it comes.
Beside the gurgling brooks that make music in the fields,
it lives and thrives.
When the bluegrass begins to shoot its gentle sprays to sun,
mint comes, and its sweetest soul drinks at the crystal brook.
It is virgin then.
But soon it must be married to old Bourbon.
His great heart, his warmth of temperament,
and that affinity which no one understands,
demands the wedding.

How shall it be?

Take from the cold spring some water,
pure as angels are;
mix it with sugar till it seems like oil.
Then take a glass
and crush your mint within it with a spoon
– crush it around the borders of the glass
and leave no place untouched.
Then throw the mint away
– it is a sacrifice.
Fill with cracked ice the glass;
pour in the quantity of Bourbon which you want.
It trickles slowly through the ice.
Let it have time to cool,
then pour your sugared water over it.
No spoon is needed;
no stirring allowed
– just let it stand a moment.
Then around the brim place sprigs of mint,
so that the one who drinks may find taste and odor at one draft.

“Then when it is made, sip it slowly.
August suns are shining,
the breath of the south wind is upon you.
It is fragrant, cold and sweet – it is seductive.
No maiden’s kiss is tenderer or more refreshing,
no maiden’s touch could be more passionate.
Sip it and dream – you cannot dream amiss.
Sip it and dream – it is a dream itself.
No other land can give so sweet solace for your cares;
no other liquor soothes you in melancholy days

Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul,
no tonic for the body like old Bourbon whiskey.”

Julep Time

Oh what the hell !! This excruciating summer , selling mojitos to beer lovers, part of me itches for a cloyingly sweet, bourbon loaded drink that reminds me of an adult lemonade stand. Julep - Mint Julep. The Mojito is here to stay , but if you are a bit more experimemtal and adventurous, let me introduce you to the subtle complexity of a perfectly crafted potion with a hint of mint, the darkness of a fine bourbon, and only the faintest touch of sweetness.

Like many other classic cocktails, not so well known in these parts of the world where we imbibe our poison, Mint Julep is living in obsequity compared to many a glamourous sounding drinks. Mint Julep was orginally invented during american derby times in the southern states of America and because Kentucky whiskey is famous around, Bouborne was a natural choice. Here is the recipie:

6-8 leaves of fresh mint, the smaller and fresher, the better (if they’re really small, toss in a few more)
Loads of ice

1 teaspoon sugar or 2 tsp simple syrup
75 ml — good Bourbon (American Whiskey made from Corn) , emphasis on the good — Jim Beam is most accessible though Maker`s Mark is better

Gently, very gently muddle the mint in the bottom of a tall glass, taking care to swab the sides of the glass with the oil seeping from the lightly bruised mint leaves. Add the syrup or the sugar (with a few drops of water to help it dissolve), and a little of the bourbon. Gently stir, then fill the glass with well-crushed ice*. Add the rest of the bourbon, and a little more ice so the glass is completely full. Stir briskly until the glass frosts. Top with more ice if needed (if you want to get really decadent, sprinkle a little Jamaican rum over the top), and garnish with a few beautiful mint sprigs. Skewer with a straw, cut short enough so you have to get your face right down in the mint. You can sprinkle the top with powdered sugar if you like, but you think you might wind up getting it on the tip of my nose and looking like an idiot, skip it. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before indulging.

Julep enthusiasts around the world have deabted to death the real construction methodology of the drink, but my personal favourite is as popularised by one of the greatest mixologists of our times - Chris McMillan. Chris has been a cockatil guru working for many a big glitzy 5-star bars in America and more recently in New Orleans. Thanks to internet I was able to trace him down to Marriot Reanissance - New Orleans and got to speak to him as well. He does away with the mint after muddling them in the glass, just leaving the essences of mint in the glass. Rest is same.Whatever is the preparation, enjoying it in more than one way is a good thing, even if one is eveil and wrong.

If you are a whiskey moghul, susbisting 51 weeks out of the year , mixing whiskey with soda, let me show you a new religion. Plant your feet at the bar counter of Take 5, and see what great degree of attention, humble respect and dedication is found in the Julep.

Watch out for a fabulous poem I will posting followng this on the MINT JULEP!!!

Lime in my beer!!

Bangalore is a treasure cove for Beer drinkers. I do not know about other cities but, in Bangalore we surly get the widest variety of beers possible - Belgian (Chimay, Chrisotphel,Orval & many more), Irish (Guiness) , Mexican (Corona) , Japanese (Asahi), Malaysian (Tiger), Thai (Malaysian), Australian (Cooopers) and many others. And each of these countries surly has its own quaff culture for their Beers.

I have been noticing in many bars across, people drinking Corona with a lime wedge at the mouth of the pint bottle. I assumed it to be a Mexican drinking culture thing. Not until I had a customer at Take 5 recently asking for a KF beer with a lime wedge, did my mind start thinking if its really a Mexican thing or does it do something different to the beer drinking itself.

Some Mexican research shows that the lime wedge in a beer pint was a marketing kick of a beer seller. So far, due to myth or shame, that individual has never come forward. Another says the lime’s acidity helps cut the slightly sweet corn flavor of the beers. Another says that the cans of beer would be stored in dusty conditions. Tourists naturally wanted to clean up the mouth of the can and they found a wedge of lime to be the perfect solution. Apparently this way of drinking is popular only with the tourists & Mexicans don`t drink that way. This explanation makes some sense.

Still another account says the wedge of lime could be laid on top of the opening to keep flies from getting into the beer. Then again, the most plausible story might be that early bottles of Mexican beer were reportedly sealed with linerless caps, resulting in a ring of rust on the bottle rim. A swipe of the lime and the bottle came clean.

I tried some KF at home with the lime wedge, and boy I liked a new limey flavour of the beer for sure. While in India its still starting up, I would say, beer lovers outside have come full circle, so much so that they wear T-shirts with NFL slogans - "No Freakin` Lime". They do not like lime in there. Some think its a hoax. Imagine the bottles going in for refilling and the bottlers trying to pull out the lime wedges from them!!

So what ever the story might be , looks like our very own KF is soon to get onto the band wagon of Corona. Would you like to drink it that way??

About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.

Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.

He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.

This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

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