With Mint Julep season upon us, a crack team of P&P researchers has devoted many boozy hours at our local mixology joint seeking inspiration for at-home cocktail recipes that could give the Kentucky classic a nice twist.
Perhaps we’re the last people on Earth to discover this, but the Whiskey Smash proved to be the perfect cocktail for what we were after. Or, as the drink’s creator, Dale DeGroff — known to drinking’s upper echelons as King Cocktail — reportedly said of the Whiskey Smash: “I served it to folks who proclaimed they would never drink whiskey.” In other words, it’s so smooth and delicious that even some P&P naysayers might enjoy it. (Here’s DeGroff’s recipe, from Gourmet magazine.)
While we certainly need no prodding to consume whiskey, the drink offers a nice Spring-filled sense of refreshment, lying somewhere between a Mint Julep and a Mojito.
Based on the menu description of four ingredients — lemon, rye whiskey, fresh mint, and simple syrup — we charged headlong into trying to recreate the drink at home. Okay, so we failed to strain out a few stray lemon seeds, we idiotically chopped (rather than muddled) the mint leaves, and our simple syrup consisted of some sugar stirred quickly into a kid’s cup full of water. Never mind that we completely ignored any sense of ratios or measuring the ingredients. Instead we kept throwing ingredients together and asking ourselves, “How hard could this be?”
While the taste wasn’t terrible (or maybe that’s just wishful thinking to make up for the quarter-bottle of 18-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon that we blew through), our version was all but undrinkable mainly due to the amount of cocktail flotsam that eddied around in the back of your throat as you tried to swallow.
I realized just how low we had sunk when when I noticed my mother-in-law looking on in a kind of muted horror. She clucked her tongue while gently suggesting that we consider enrolling in a bar-tending class at a local community college. “Don’t you think that would be helpful if you’re going to do a blog-ety-thing about drinks?” she asked. Hmm, I thought. Perhaps we could just drink more and absorb cocktail knowledge through literal osmosis.
Back to PDT. It’s either the greatest bar in the world, or it has the best PR staff ever known — or perhaps a little of both. In any event, an article from Esquire offers this Whiskey Smash recipe from PDT bartender Jim Meehan:
¾ oz. simple syrup
2 sprigs mint
2 oz. rye whiskey
– Muddle the lemon with the simple syrup and the leaves from one mint sprig.
– Add the rye whiskey and ice.
– Shake and strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with the other sprig of mint.
And that’s it. This weekend, Whiskey Smashes for all!