The great heat wave of aught-nine seems to have broken in the Northwest, but that doesn't mean it's time to disarm the heat-busting liquid arsenal. And even if you're in a place where the daytime highs aren't going to top 60 degrees today--hope you brought a jacket, San Francisco!--there are still some summer coolers that are worth breaking out just for the hell of it. Here's one: the Champagne Julep.
Bourbon gets all the glory when talking about juleps, but the drink has traditionally been made with an assortment of spirits. Rum, rye whiskey, and brandy all have a history in the julep department (and in the case of brandy, a longer history as a julep component than bourbon has). The Champagne Julep takes one of these elements, cognac, and fleshes it out in an extraordinarily decadent manner by contributing bubbly to the mix.
As described in the recipe below, the Champagne Julep is flavorful and, it should be noted, fairly powerful. You can reduce the drink's firepower, if desired, by cutting back on the cognac, and you'll still have a very refreshing and indulgent drink--not to mention a battle-ready summer cooler ready for the next heat wave that comes your way.
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- 10-12 leaves of fresh mint, removed from the stems
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or 1-2 tsp simple syrup, to taste)
- 2 ounces cognac
- Chilled brut Champagne or other brut sparkling wine
- Plenty of crushed ice
Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup or tall glass and gently bruise with a muddler or wooden spoon, taking care to coat the sides of the glass with the aromatic oils; crushing or grinding the mint will lend an unpleasant bitter taste to the drink.
Add the simple syrup or sugar (stir it with a few drops of water to help it dissolve) and a splash of cognac, then lightly stir. Fill the glass with crushed ice.
Add the remainder of the cognac, then top with crushed ice and briskly stir the mixture until the glass frosts, adding more crushed ice as needed. Slowly add chilled Champagne or other brut sparkling wine to fill and give a light stir (watch out for foam!).
Garnish with a mint sprig and spear with a straw. Let the drink sit for a minute or two before indulging. Aaaah.