Kentucky is known for several things. It is one of four Commonwealths in the United States. The Bluegrass State is home to the largest horse race in the United States, the Kentucky Derby, and known for its bourbon production. Though over ninety percent of bourbon is made in Kentucky, that is not a requirement for it to be called bourbon...yet. The fertile land, limestone-filtered water, and relatively temperate climate make it a perfect place to house the thousands of barrels of bourbon that we are all waiting to consume. Even better, it offers all the southern hospitality you could hope to find.
The owners of the 21c Museum Hotel, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, were looking to bring that hospitality into a unique environment. By most of the reviews from the top travel magazines in the country, they have succeeded. Part of that success is shown by their growth, opening hotels in Cincinnati, Bentonville, Lexington, and Durham, NC. The art they showcase is not just in the galleries; it is also on plates and in glasses of the restaurants that are part of the hotel. Proof on Main (Louisville), Metropole (Cincinnati), The Hive (Bentonville), and The Counting House (Durham) all have received rave reviews and multiple awards and nominations for awards.They utilize not only local ingredients, but prepare local cuisine. The food is delightful, and the cocktails have just as much attention to detail and taste as the cuisine. Which is why I was very excited to find one of their cocktails in the book The American Cocktail, published by Imbibe Magazine.
Above The Board (via The American Cocktail and Proof on Main)
8 to 10 mint leaves
2 fresh strawberries, hulled
1 ds. rhubarb bitters
1 tsp. granulated sugar
.5 tsp high quality balsamic vinegar
2.5 oz./ 75 mL bourbon (a sweet one is better for this cocktail)
Glass: Julep cup
Garnish: Sprig of mint
Gently muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup and place to the side. In a mixing glass, muddle st strawberries, bitters, sugar, and vinegar. Add the bourbon and ice, the stir until chilled. Double strain the mixture into the julep glass, then fill with crushed ice. Add mint garnish and serve.
In 100 days of making and trying cocktails it was bound to happen. This one was not my jam. Nothing really stepped up for me and said "Here, the flavor is going this way." I felt hints and suggestions, but nothing took over. Maybe I did not use the right vinegar, maybe the berries were not big enough. Something in this one was just off. I would love to revisit it with a few different explorations, but that is something I will have to attempt sometime in December. Tomorrow, another cocktail calls.