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.

Mint Julep Modified 1

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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Carbonated Coffee for Summer

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When I saw this coffee soda on Man Made DIY a few weeks back I thought, ew, weird. But then I thought, welp, better try it. And so here we are. This is an interesting twist on iced coffee if you’re tired of the latte version.

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Man Made has a whole system for making special double-strong cold brewed coffee.

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But I wasn’t so picky, opting instead for just brewing my favourite espresso double strength and letting it cool before straining and chilling.

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The process is pretty simple: you have your chilled super-strong coffee, a large glass, some of your favourite fizzy water, an orange, and a vegetable peeler. And some ice, but that stayed in the freezer while I took this photo.

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Fill your glass about half full with your cold coffee and plop in some ice cubes. You can sweeten the coffee if you wish (I keep a small jar of simple syrup in the fridge for this very purpose). Use the vegetable peeler to scrape up a good-sized chunk of orange peel.

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Top the glass off with soda water. Squeeze the peel over the beverage to get the orange oils in there.

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Then rub the oily peel around the edge of the glass before plopping it right into the coffee.

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And that’s it. It’s definitely different, but I think I like it. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

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SideBar: the D’Artagnan

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Let’s sit down and have a drink today to celebrate: Ali Does It Herself turns FIVE this week! Five years of shenanigans and DIY failures and a whole lotta successes and support from you, you gorgeous nearly 14,000 followers. Thanks for sticking with us through the ups and the downs – here’s to five more years!

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This light cocktail seems at first like a standard mimosa but it packs a secret punch with a touch of class. To make the simple syrup that goes into this recipe (and a whole lotta other ones), simply dissolve one part granulated sugar in one part water and store the result in the fridge. I made this to serve 6 people twice, but I will put in brackets the amounts for just one serving so you can do your own math when expanding or contracting the recipe.

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Start by grabbing 2 large juicy oranges and using a zester to pull some twists off them.

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Then you might as well juice them as well, so as not to waste all that citrusy goodness. Pour 6oz orange juice (1/2oz for one) into a container with a pour spout.

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Next, tip in some booze. This recipe calls for 1.5oz Grand Marnier (1/8oz for one), which you could substitute for another orange liqueur (though Grand Marnier is the best).

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It also calls for 1.5oz Armagnac de Montal (1/8oz for one). Armagnac is a type of brandy from a particular place (Armagnac), but you can substitute with another type of brandy if you find Armagnac a little pricey.

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Then you need to tip in 6 teaspoons simple syrup (1/2 teaspoon for one).

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Give it a good stirring – don’t fret about the seeds and pulp from the oranges because you’re going to strain this as you pour. Add in some ice cubes and stir it again to chill the mix.

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Pour about an ounce each of the mix through a strainer into 6 champagne flutes (one for one), then top up with about 3oz chilled sparkling wine or Champagne.

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I used Freixenet brut because I like how it tastes and also I had an enormous bottle of it under the sink and that’s why I made this whole party beverage in the first place.

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Garnish with a twist of orange peel and serve immediately.

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