|Alt-Julep: The Waysider|
As promised, I'm introducing you to this refreshing cocktail, which I came across at the charming and laid-back Louisville restaurant Decca. It's on East Market Street, in a neighborhood that in recent years has seen the arrival of a clutch of restaurants, art galleries, and antique shops, including the Mayan place across the street that my savvy barkeep Krista says is also very good.
The drink pays tribute to the Wayside Christian Mission, formerly housed on the site. Bourbon-based cocktails are a dime of dozen, but the trick is to find those that are balanced and not too sweet. The Waysider's combination of bourbon, lime juice, simple syrup, ginger beer and mint give it a bracing herbal and slightly musky flavor.
Decca uses Old Fitzgerald 100 proof "Bottled in Bond"bourbon because, explains Krista, "The spicier, high-proof whiskey is a nice complement to the ginger beer and helps balance out some of the sweetness of the drink." She says Old Forester Signature, another hundred-proofer, would make an acceptable substitute. (If you're interested in the history and complicated modern ownership status of Louisville distilleries, here's an interesting post.) I found Fever Tree ginger beer at my neighborhood Fairway.
The ice doesn't have to be crushed, but Krista recommends"definitely a smaller, more meltable ice cube like hotel ice (or as we call it in bartender circles, 'cheater ice'). This," she explains, "is for the refreshment factor. You want your ice to melt a little and dilute the drink just a touch."
Here's to the refreshment factor!
In a highball glass, stir together, without crushing mint leaves:
1 sprig mint, leaves only
1 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar to water)
2 oz. bourbon
Fill glass with crushed ice or smallish cubes
Top with Fever Tree ginger beer, about 1 ounce (give bottle a shake before opening)