There are three stories to tell, in two loose categories. Two are about products, two are about things I wouldn't think about that often. Yes, the math doesn't quite add up.
The first story, in which I'm going to have come clean. There's a reason I've been using a lot of Creme de Mure in recent recipes - Edmond Briottet. According to Oh Gosh!, Briottet liqueurs have been produced in Dijon, France since 1936 but aren't that well known outside of France. I picked up a bottle of their Creme de Mure to use for the Highland Bramble I made for February's Mixology Monday and was totally blown away. It's at least as good as any other brand I've come across in bars across Scotland, and a good deal better than most. As ever, when you fall in love with a product, it figures large in anything you come up with. It helps that blackberry goes with light spirits as well as dark spirits.
Act two - the other side of the coin. Just as there are the things you always go to, there's always a shelf full of products that you don't really use. For me, the biggest categories I tend to ignore are bourbon and Cognac. Bourbon tends to lose out to Scotch in my thinking because, being honest, I'm in Scotland; it seem foolish to ignore the massive variation within that category when it's so readily available, but there's no particular reason for me not to consider Cognac. Having cashed in a few weeks of change, I decided to invest in a decent bottle of Cognac (Courvoisier Exclusif, as it turned out) with the intention of improving my opinion of that. The recipe that follows is step on that road, I guess.
The final story is one from work. One of the bar staff asked me to speak to a customer who was complaining about their drink - he was holding an Old-fashioned. I remembered another bartender asking me how to make one a little earlier in the evening, for a drinks check. I took him through, and we made a great tasting drink - which was back at the bar in the hands of a less-than-happy customer. So, I took a breath and walked over, introduced myself and asked if there was a problem with his drink.
"I asked for a mint julep."
This might not strike anyone as surprising or unlikely, but I've been working full-time at my current bar for over three years and that was the first time that anyone has ever ordered a mint julep. I apologised and explained that as we didn't get asked for juleps that often, it was possible that the staff were unfamiliar with the drink. We got the correct drink put together and sent out, and everyone went home happy.
There are some drinks that make it and some drinks that don't. The mint julep had completely fallen off my radar, while the mojito is currently the UK's most popular cocktail.
This week's drink is pretty simple, based on those three things - one ingredient I use a lot, one I don't, all combined in a style of drink I haven't thought of in forever.
Photo ©2009, Hugh Beauchamp
45ml Courvoisier Exclusif
15ml Edmond Briottet Creme de Mure
10ml gomme syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar to water)
6-8 mint leaves
Build in a highball glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.