A cocktail is to a regular alcoholic beverage what a top notch stripper stripping is to your Dad getting undressed. At the end of the day they are doing the same thing, but Christ what a difference.

Three of these for the Punchers working today! Now!

Everyone needs something to believe in. I believe in cocktails. They are creative, attractive, potent, and they have a clear sense of purpose. Cocktails are about the details, and delight dwells in details.

A cocktail takes the familiar, say a lemon and some spirit, and turns it into something high impact, just like the stripper. An exotic name, a dash of bright colour and a well-thought out garnish are all part of the package, in both cases.

It is fair to say that feudalism is out of fashion, and slavery is very nineteenth century. This doesn’t mean you have to feel bad about those dreams, though. You know, the ones where you’re a pre-revolutionary Virginian plantation owner, or where your surname is Julius and there are all those grapes.

But it does mean that, as a matter of practical reality, the opportunities to have someone working like a navvy for your pleasure and before your very eyes have been severely reduced over time.

Ordering a cocktail is a way to bring a little of that feudal style glamour back. All you need do is sit back and watch the bartender frosting, chopping, muddling, squeezing, dusting, blending and shaking until they sweat – all for your delight. Observing someone open a stubby for you just isn’t the same.

We’ve got a few herbs outside the kitchen window. This year the mint has been best on ground. Spilling profusely over its boundaries, defiantly thriving in spite of our neglect. The parsley and basil have their designated and traditional uses, but this luscious patch of mint has been crying out for constructive deployment. A minute’s deep analysis of the situation last Saturday produced an answer - mint juleps.

If you want to do the wrong thing you need to do it right. So it’s straight to our cocktail bible. As I sit on the couch and pore over the text, the kids wander up and mill around. This is heartening. I always like it when they see me reading.

According to our cocktail guide we need 6 sprigs of mint, 2 1/2 oz of bourbon, crushed ice, 2 teaspoons water and 1 teaspoon of caster sugar or sugar syrup. So not only will the mint julep be using fistfuls of home grown produce but it will involve bourbon. And drinking bourbon always provides me with a special satisfaction.

This is because simply ordering the stuff conjures up a vivid mental image of my sherry-sipping, paternal grandmother. In my mind she looks down on both me and the bourbon, with a very particular expression of disapproval. It is an expression that she really nailed in her lifetime, and one that I call the Tilde Mouth.

The tilde is that thing up in your keyboard’s top left corner. It’s this one ~.  You don’t get to press that key much so I’ll have one more go ~~~~~~~. There you go, enough tildes for a whole bridge morning.

Mr Boston says superfine (caster) sugar or simple syrup. Don’t be afraid, step up to syrup.  More things can wrong cooking 2 minute noodles than making sugar syrup. Just put a cup of sugar into a cup of water and gently bring it to the boil for a bit so the sugar dissolves. And unless you’re straight outta Richmond VA I would also suggest putting in more than a teaspoon of the syrup in your glass.

The only other thing is the crushed ice. In the absence of ice crushing technology send your wingman outside with a bag of ice and a huge rolling pin. When he asks to come back in make him have a few more bashes. Finer is better.

The instructions stipulate that the sprigs need to be sticking a couple of inches above the rim of your glass and that you use a short straw. Drinking your mint julep will ideally involve thrusting your face into a freshly picked thicket of the stuff. As we had no straws drinking our mint juleps involved our faces actually crashing through the foliage. The scent is intoxicatingly intense.

For a moment it is all about you and the mint, to the exclusion of the rest of the world. That is until the icy, slightly sweetened bourbon sidles its way onto your tongue. Merry Christmas indeed.

Comments on this post close at cocktail hour, which today we deem to be 6 pm AEDST and possibly much earlier

Most commented


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    • acotrel says:

      05:31am | 24/12/12

      I don’t like drunks, and I won’t be one myself around my family. I’ve never had a cocktail, but for a while some time ago I njoyed a G&T but I decided they were dangerous rubbish.  These days I enjoy one glass each day with dinner, of cheap Australian red wine from a bottle.  I’ve found a couple of $12 dollar shiraz which seem to be low in preservative and acidity , so don’t do much damage .

    • Gregg says:

      08:10am | 24/12/12

      acotrel!, never a cocktail!, and you an industrial chemist!
      Maaaate!, you just don’t know what you have missed out on and especially seeing as you could have, well lets say might have had a hidden talent lying there latent.
      I am starting to understand that psyche of yours.

      Instead of that cheap Shiraz, why not go and buy some bulk grapes and with a tub from Bunnings and clean feet, have a squishy good time in knocking up some good self made plonk.
      You might even be able to use some as fuel for the Commando.

      And not even ever a Harvey Wallbanger!
      There used to be ( maybe still is ) a little restaurant called the Reef around the back street of that pub fancy for its time when the Beatles were out on the balcony in Melbourne.
      Tiny place and a bar in the shape of a boat hull and so there I was one evening with a guy trying his dammest to create the right environment for the future by drowning his squeeze with HWBs and he had his way of wanting them mixed but she was not so enamoured and it was poor me , well not so poor who ebnded up downing about half a dozen of them, probably about 15 shots of alcohol in all and surprisingly ( must have been the OJ ) I didn’t feel the slightest bit whoozy and even managed to drive home, no booze buses back then!

      It’ll be a hot Xmas, so at least chill the shiraz and even pop in an ice cube or two or do as some spaniards do and that’s make a red wine shandy with soad water and you’ll not get so pissed, then again half a glass for you and!

    • Willie says:

      09:22am | 24/12/12

      I’ve always thought you were just a grumpy old man set in your ways but this is the last straw.
      A man so bad at handling his drink it scares him is no man at all. Drugs don’t change a person they reveal a person. If being drunk makes you feel bad it’s because you are a bad person you just mange to hide it most of the time.
      I should clarify by saying I’ve nothing against people who don’t drink. But if you have drunk and discovered you don’t like yourself why should anyone respect you.

    • expat says:

      06:43am | 24/12/12

      Personally I like the Mojito, there is a bar in Lima where they swap out the mint and use fresh coca leaf instead, it has such a unique flavor! I highly recommend you try it if you are ever over that way.

    • Gregg says:

      06:59am | 24/12/12

      A good cocktail ought to also have some personal imagination, something on the wild side.
      Just checking the liquor shelf under the stairs and there is in deed some Jim Beam Bourbie and a bottle I spied just for Xmas as I thought it could be interesting and that is a Black Cherry ( nearly spelt cheery and it will be ) Bourbon liquer so I might have a reasonable base from which to start.
      Merry Xmas Amy and do not need too many crutches.
      And yes, Merry Xmas to the Punchers too and what’s the bet they could be having a few in the office before the day is out.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      03:30pm | 24/12/12

      Love cocktails…. My alltime personal fave… Scotch and coke. smile

    • Geronimo says:

      07:14am | 24/12/12

      Organizing a Cocktail Party is simply a crafty payoff to those who would never get an invite to dinner.

    • Tasmanian Tiger says:

      08:06am | 24/12/12

      Amy, you obviously haven’t seen my Dad getting undressed. Phwoar !

    • Shane* says:

      02:14pm | 24/12/12

      Typical Tasmanian…

    • old grey fox says:

      08:31am | 24/12/12

      ..shouldn’t it be tipple through the mint juleps…?

    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      09:53am | 24/12/12

      That’s brilliant! I was only ever half happy with the headline. Reckon I should change it? If five people say “change it” before five other people say “leave it” then I will change it. You don’t get service like that at The Drum!

    • Don Paul says:

      10:14am | 24/12/12


    • AdamC says:

      10:54am | 24/12/12


    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      11:34am | 24/12/12

      OK two people is enough. Changed!

    • Don Paul says:

      01:56pm | 24/12/12

      Nice one. This heat would have me leaning toward a jug of Pims loaded with fruit and ice.

      Enjoy your Chrissy everyone.

    • James Hunter says:

      08:33am | 24/12/12

      Amy, Just Lurrrve your opening sentence. From a lady by the name of Cru(t)chfield ! !
      Mind,  olives spoil the taste of Metho ! !

    • Katie says:

      08:44am | 24/12/12

      And now I’m dying for a cocktail of some sort, and it’s only quater to 10 in the morning.

      I certainly won’t be gettong one with the family today!

      Enjoy your cocktails, Amy, for those of us who can’t today. Merry Christmas!

    • AdamC says:

      09:05am | 24/12/12

      My favourite cocktail is a nice, dry Manhattan. That is about the only decent thing you can do with bourbon other than flush it down the toilet, in my view.

      A good Martini is also quite wonderful. I like them with a twist of lemon, rather than olives, and made very, very dry. Just show the gin the vermouth bottle, Mr Bartender, then put it right away!

      For a more refreshing drink, I like a Tom Collins, which seems like basically a jazzed up G&T.

      As someone who is open to new ideas and experiences, cocktails is an area where I make a big exception. Most modern cocktails are too sour or sweet, made to appeal to young women. (Yes, yes, I am not claiming that all young women drink sweet, fruity cocktails, but they seem to be the core constituency of them.) Like any other form of engineering, cocktail-making is all about taking elements away, until you are left with perfection.

    • Smidgeling says:

      09:10am | 24/12/12

      So Amy, a top notch stripper AND a cocktail would be your heaven?

      But yes, cocktails are something to believe in for sure!

    • Smidgeling says:

      09:10am | 24/12/12

      So Amy, a top notch stripper AND a cocktail would be your heaven?

      But yes, cocktails are something to believe in for sure!

    • Fed Up says:

      09:15am | 24/12/12

      Great start…you’re into your second sentence and you’ve blasphemed and on Christmas Eve.
      As for your sissy drinks…p~
      1 scotch…1 bourbon…1 beer.

    • Meph says:

      11:39am | 24/12/12

      Pfft, Brandy, a refined weapon from a more civilized age. Not as clumsy or random as a burbon.

      Have a good christmas all, and remember to practice all things in moderation, including moderation!

    • Mark says:

      11:11am | 24/12/12

      Ahhh Alcohol, the substance enshrined into our culture to make us all forget about how conceited our every day lives are. Yes, drink up, tell yourself it feels good when anyone who has ventured outside the box knows otherwise.
      It is a most potent amnesic, and is accepted for that very reason.
      Merry Christmas, drink up, we will be back to working and spending in short time.

    • Augustus Caesar says:

      11:46am | 24/12/12

      Split that word! I believe in both!!
      Together or seperately it matters not!


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