For MGC, who turned me on to Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Here’s to you, my dear.
I’ve often thought F. Scott was the man of my dreams, albeit 50 years too early. The man could write, loved to drink, was a party animal, and as handsome as any man I’ve ever seen. I mean, what else is there in life? I could totally have been his Zelda!
Fitzgerald is, in my humble opinion, the quintessential author of the Jazz Age, that gilded pre-war time of parties, sexual freedom, sparkly dresses and headbands bedecked with feathers, the “Charleston,” and sheer excess. Nowhere is this dazzling and dark era brought so beautifully to life than in The Great Gatsby. I had a crush on Jay Gatsby after reading this book in my older teens, and fed by watching Robert Redford play him to perfection in the original film. But as I get older and read this book over and over, I find myself increasingly……not disliking him……….but wanting to shake some sense into him. However, since I know what it’s like to carry a long-time torch for someone who’s not a part of my life, I can understand. Or perhaps I understand all too well and that’s why I want to slap some sense into J.G. – figuratively smack some sense into myself as well?
I digress. One of the pivotal, and my favorite, scenes in the book is when Gatsby whisks his lover Daisy off to New York City to escape the heat, along with her horrendous husband Tom, her cousin Nick who is the de facto narrator of the book, and Tom’s quasi-girlfriend Jordan. They end up at the Plaza Hotel, drinking mint juleps and getting crazier in the heat, until tempers explode and truths are told that change everyone from that point forward.
In honor of the Kentucky Derby, and my love for Jay Gatsby and this book, here is a lovely little recipe for that old Southern favorite, a mint julep. This method, which worked VERY well for me, serves one, so feel free to increase ratios as needed.
1 highball glass
1 spoonful of sugar
1 spoonful of water
7-8 fresh mint leaves
Enough crushed ice to fill the highball glass
Bourbon whiskey of your choice. I love Marker’s Mark, so that’s what I used here.
Dash of nutmeg
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Add the sugar to your highball glass. Add the water to just dampen the sugar. Don’t souse it. This is about what you want.
And know that this is truly for a bourbon whiskey lover, as the amount of sugar doesn’t really cut the liquor flavor. So use a bourbon you really like, or add more sugar and a bit more water.
Add in the mint leaves and muddle them a bit, if you have a cocktail mallet. If not, the back of a spoon should work. You want to release the oils in the mint. Add three or four more fresh mint sprigs to the sides of the glass.
Put in the crushed ice to the top. You essentially don’t want there to be room for anything except bourbon. Did I mention this drink will knock you on your ass?
Fill the glass with bourbon whiskey. It’s actually a very pretty color if held in sunlight. If this amount of bourbon freaks you out, use half that amount and add a bit of water. It won’t taste the same, but you also won’t find yourself lying on your kitchen floor drunkenly singing “My Old Kentucky Home.” Not that that’s ever happened to me. I’m just saying it for YOUR sake.
Add a small dash of nutmeg over the top, which takes this cocktail to another level flavorwise, and garnish with the remaining mint leaves.
Sip and enjoy, preferably with a good friend while wearing a Derby-esque hat and watching the ponies.