SideBar: Mint Julep, Modified

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This year, Ottawa marked one of the hottest summers on record. I’m sure that wherever you are, the super el Niño occurring this year really messed with your summer. Here in Ottawa, summer is very reluctant to let go, and the temperatures here in September are only now just starting to cool down to what they should be.

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As it still feels like summer, why not enjoy a summer beverage on this lovely Friday? Yes, it’s yet another bourbon drink, but bourbon is such a very adaptable alcohol – there’s so much you can do with it (and Trav drinks a heckuva lot of it). This is a twist on the traditional mint julep, which is made with bourbon and mint and sugar – that’s it.

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Trav and I decided to take advantage of the massive amounts of lemon balm taking over my garden (so I can make more lemon balm tea) and do a wee varietal (lemon balm is also mint, after all). We also used honey syrup instead of regular sugar syrup (which is 1 cup honey dissolved in 1 cup hot water).

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Grab yourself a glass of some sort. I didn’t have any silver julep cups on hand because I’m not that fancy, so this is just a tumbler that used to be filled with weird Italian effervescents for digestion. Shove about 8 or 9 lemon balm leaves into the bottom of the glass.

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Tip in 3/4 oz honey syrup, and using a muddler (or a spurtle, because I’m not fancy enough to own a muddler), proceed to squish the crap out of your honeyed leaves.

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Squish, squish, squish.

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Now pour in some decent booze, about 2oz bourbon to be exact. I like this Evan Williams kind for this drink because it’s a little fruity.

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Top with some ice cubes. Or one giant one. The ice will hold the leaves down so you don’t sip them up accidentally.

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Sip it whilst calmly admiring your bumper crop of lemon balm.

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Egg Nog?

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I love egg nog.  So much so that I wish I could have it all year ’round.  So of course I learned to make my own.  And every time I offer it to people, I try to do it in Denholm Elliott’s voice from (my favourite movie of all time — don’t judge) Trading Places.  He’s just so emphatic.

I know.  I don’t know why I showed you that. I just love egg nog that much. So when I found this recipe on Design*Sponge I knew the time had come. THIS WAS IT.

So first you start by creating an ice bath. That means either filling your sink with water and ice cubes, or a large bowl that will hold your pot. My sink is terrible at retaining water (not my sink, not my problem), so I opted for a heat-proof bowl.

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Then grab a medium-sized pot and crack in 6 whole eggs. Give those a thorough whisking.

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Pour in as well 2 cups whole milk (we call it homogenized here in the Great White North), 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

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Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the custard (because that’s what it is) thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Resist the urge to speed things up by turning up the heat. That’s how you get scrambled eggs plus milk. Not cool.

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Plop the pot into the ice bath. Add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and whisk the whole shebang for about 3 or 4 minutes.

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Put the lid on the pot, haul it out of the ice bath, and let it come to room temperature, about an hour (I had some errands to run so I actually put mine in the fridge for about four hours and it was fine as well).

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Next, strain the egg solids (those lumpy bits) out of your custard by pouring it through a sieve over a bowl.

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You can throw these out. Or compost them like a good citizen.

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Now whisk in your booze***. The original recipe calls for brandy or rum plus bourbon, but the Pie and I are not bourbon fanatics like Trav, so we opted for 1/2 cup rum plus 1/2 cup maple whisky.

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Whisk that whisky right in there.

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Might as well add a few dashes of grated nutmeg as well.

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Now pour 1 cup whipping cream into a bowl and beat the crap out of it until it forms stiff peaks.

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Then fold that gorgeousness into your eggnog.

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Let your eggnog chill for a couple of hours before drinking. It’s like drinking whipped cream, essentially. I personally don’t think the recipe would be that good without the alcohol to kind of dilute it, so if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic version, this is probably not it.

*** That said, however, if you want to try this particular recipe without the booze, this is what I recommend: instead of adding 1 cup booze, add 1 cup whole milk, and then when it gets to the final 1 cup whipping cream, just add it in without whipping. Then the whole thing is much less solid and easier to drink on its own.

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SideBar: White North

by Trav

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The Pie’s favourite cocktail is a White Russian—cream, coffee liqueur, and vodka—so I decided that on his birthday this year, I would ply him with some variations on the original recipe. The Dirty Russian, which uses chocolate milk instead of cream, was really gross, because we picked up a thin, low-sugar chocolate milk that tasted of chalk. I also found a recipe for a White Canadian, which is vaguely offensive and also very strange; it substitutes goat’s milk for cream. How is a goat particularly Canadian? They could’ve at least suggested moose milk.

But anyway, we got to wondering—what substitution would actually make for a Canadian variant? In a booze-soaked fit of genius, I realized there was a perfectly Canadian drink that could replace the Russian vodka: Sortilège, a maple whisky.

I enjoy a bit of Sortilège straight, but I’ve been trying to find a good mixing use for it, and this one turned out even better than I’d hoped.

We hemmed and hawed about the name for a while, since the “White Canadian” is 1) terrible and 2) already taken. I believe Ali came up with the “Great White North,” and I suggested we shorten it to “White North” to make it clear it’s a variation on a White Russian.

I played with the ratios a bit, given the different base spirit, and I think this is the most pleasing recipe:

2 oz cream (use either full-on 35% cream, or 18% table cream)
1.5 oz Sortilège maple whisky
1 oz coffee liqueur (e.g. Kahlua or Tia Maria)

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Put some ice cubes in an old fashioned glass or tumbler, and then pour in the Sortilège and coffee liqueur.

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Then, gently and slowly, pour the cream over the mixture. It should float a bit, especially if you’re using the higher-fat cream. If you really want clear layers, try pouring slowly over the back of a spoon.

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Most people tend to mix it all together, though.

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And that’s it. Very simple, and really tasty. Even people who aren’t whisky drinkers will love it.

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Introducing the SideBar! and Bourbon Slush

I am positively chuffed to announce the addition of a bar to the Ali Does It DIY repository. The delightful Trav, a budding home bartender, has caved to my peer pressure kindly volunteered to show us the ropes with a few of the fun and fantastical alcoholic beverages you can mix up these days. Enjoy this one as a last taste of summer on your long weekend! – Ali

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Bourbon Slush Punch

So, food is tasty, and cooking is interesting, but we all know the truth: eating is just a thing we do so we can stay alive long enough get to the good part, which is drinking.

With that healthy, well-balanced guiding principle in mind, I give you the first SideBar offering: a bourbon punch from Smitten Kitchen that’s strong enough to make you dizzy, but delicious enough that you won’t notice until you stand up.

This one’s easy, and it disappears quickly. That’s why we quadrupled the recipe.

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First, you’ll need to make a strong black tea. I’m not a tea drinker, but Ali picked out an Assam tea that worked very well. Let it steep until it cools, and toss the leaves. You’ll need 4 cups of tea.

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Next is lemon juice. Don’t use juice from a bottle, though, you monster. Squeeze 1 1/2 cups of juice from some fresh lemons.

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Finally, you’re going to need 1 cup of granulated sugar, 6 cups of orange juice, and a decent bottle of bourbon. You can juice some oranges, but a good bottled orange juice tends to be much better than bottled lemon (or lime). For the bourbon, we used Wild Turkey 81, and I’d also suggest Four Roses Yellow Label as a similarly cheap option. You can use a pricier bourbon if you want, like Bulleit or Woodford Reserve, but some of that flavour is likely going to be overwhelmed by the citrus.

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Pour all the liquids into a fairly large mixing bowl, including the whole bottle of bourbon. Since you’re going to want a glass or three while you’re making the punch, you should probably buy another bottle just in case.

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Stir in the sugar.

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This is the base for your punch. You could probably shake this with some ice and drink it by itself, but we’re not done yet. Keep this refrigerated until you serve it.

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When it’s time to serve the punch (which was, in our case, immediately), put equal parts ice and punch base in the blender. Half a cup of each should make one serving, and 5 cups of each makes about two litres.

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Blend them together until slushy, then pour the punch into glasses and garnish with a lemon slice, lemon peel, or mint leaves. Mint in particular is always good with bourbon and orange. If the mixture isn’t slushy enough, blend some more ice in. If the flavour isn’t strong enough, add more punch base. We definitely had to do a bit of experimenting to find the exact ratio for small servings. A lot of experimenting.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember how many I had.

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