There is something quite alluring about the concept of the perfect cocktail. From origin to consumption, a well-prepared cocktail drips with sex appeal — more’s the pity that it is so rarely made at home. Going out for such an indulgence is easier on the mind yet can often be restrictive on the pocketbook. Studio Bricolage (“a community-driven art, craft & technology center” in Minneapolis) paired up with Bradstreet Crafthouse at the Graves 601 hotel this past weekend to take some of the mystery out of the perfectly made mixed drink. In addition to learning recipes, students also took a brief crash course on the history and differences between easy-to-mix spirits, with a focus on vodka and tequila.
Bradstreet’s mixologists taught students to taste the subtle variances between vodkas and tequila — and, upon reflection, the differences were actually quite profound. I’m not sure I have a preference between vodka made from Minnesota corn (aside from the local, organic, and cooperative aspect) and vodka made from ugni grapes in France, but they definitely have different flavor characteristics which would make them pair better or worse with different mixers or foods. (So vodka can be made with grapes and has flavor profiles? It’s not so unlike wine, after all.) The two-hour-long class also laid out the amazing detail that goes into a fancy-pants drink… specifically the use of bitters, including the numerous types and and the specific number of drops used in a particular drink.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the next in the series scheduled for at Bradstreet in conjunction with Bricolage on Feb. 27 — the $45 class tackles the characteristics of bitters and how to enhance cocktails with fresh juices and syrups.
Traditional Mint Julep
1 handful of mint
House made Demerera simple syrup
15 drops Peychaud’s Bitters
2 oz Bulleit Bourbon (or comparable substitute)
Silver or copper cups
Metal spoon straw
Take 1/3 of the mint and rub it thoroughly around the inside of your cup
add a small amount of crushed ice, 1/4 oz demerera syrup and 15 drops bitters.
Stir to loosen any ice stuck to the sides of the cup
Add the bourbon, stir and place spoon straw into the cup.
Fill the cup to the brim with crushed ice
Place 1/3 of the mint next to spoon straw.
Take remaining mint in the palm of one hand, pinching the stems in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger and “spank” the mint over the ice.
Enjoy immediately holding just the bottom or top of the cup to allow a nice frost to form