For many, the notion of blended drinks is so very 1980. And one shaved ice at the county fair is all it takes to remind one that once the flavoring is gone, the ice still remains.
But the educated cocktail enthusiast knows that some of the most classic cocktails originally came with shaved ice. The mint julep, which dates to 1770, is supposed to be served in its customary pewter cup over crushed ice. In the early 1800s, cobblers (fruit, sherry, sugar and citrus) were all the rage. One writer in 1888 called it “without a doubt the most popular drink in this country.”
These days, many bartenders would blink in disbelief if you ordered one. The very name “cobbler” is derived from the little bits of crushed ice “cobbled” together for this drink. But it would be the invention of the Waring Blendor (patented in 1922 but brought to market in 1936) and the establishment of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba in 1940 that first combined modern contrivance with classic cocktails.
From “Islands in the Stream,” Hemingway writes: “This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing 30 knots.”
That book was Hemingway’s first posthumously published novel, released in 1970, nearly 10 years after he died, and 30 years after he developed a taste for daiquiris. Then the ’80s came along and savaged blended drinks by reducing them to frozen fruit purees and bottled sweet and sour, and often adding whipped cream. No way “Dad” is drinking one of those!
However, in the modern mixology era, we can take a look backwards while still heading forward. And it is with that thought in mind, that I offer four versions of classic cocktails localized and modernized for your consumption.
Important to note that not all ice is the same. You may need to experiment with volume to get the correct ratio. A good measuring guide is to fill your serving glass loosely with the ice you’re using and then use that measurement for your individual drink.
Furthermore, part of the allure of the frozen cocktail is its unique ability to be piled up above the rim of its serving glass. And remember, practice makes perfect.
Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly Podcast on iTunes and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him at jeffburkhart.net and contact him at jeffbarflyIJ@outlook.com
Summer/citrus mint julep
1½ ounces Prohibition Spirits Hooker’s House rye whiskey
1½ ounces fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
½ ounce fresh spearmint leaves
1 lemon wheel
Flowering mint sprig
Place one scoop of ice in the bottom of a blender, add first four ingredients and blend on low until thoroughly combined but not watery. Pour contents into a chilled serving glass and garnish with lemon wheel and flowering mint sprig.
Note: Mint juleps on their own are not very refreshing, the simple combination of mint, sugar and whiskey really needs the addition of citrus to make it work. Southerners already know this. Minted lemonade is a classic Southern summer refresher, so it’s odd that citrus never entered the mint julep.
2 ounces Sonoma Portworks Duet hazelnut-finished California sherry
½ ounce orange Curacao (not triple sec)
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
3 sliced fresh strawberries
1 whole strawberry
1 lemon wheel
Place one scoop of ice in the bottom of a blender, add first five ingredients and blend on low until thoroughly combined but not watery. Pour contents into a chilled serving glass and garnish with lemon wheel and whole strawberry.
Note: Fresh berry fruit is not sweet enough on its own to make properly balanced drinks. Fruit syrups are both expensive and hard to come by, making berry jams a great option, as they lend both the sugar and the color needed for the perfect drink. If you can’t find orange Curacao, Grand Marnier or Gran Gala make excellent substitutions.
Constantino’s ‘Papa’ Daiquiri
2 ounces Batiste white rum
¾ ounce Maraschino liqueur
¾ ounce fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
½ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ ounce agave syrup
1 Bada Bing stemmed all-natural cocktail cherry
1 file wheel
Place one scoop of ice in the bottom of a blender, add first five ingredients and blend on low until thoroughly combined but not watery. Pour contents into a chilled serving glass and garnish with lime wheel and stemmed cherry.
Note: Maraschino liqueur is not the juice that maraschino cherries come in, it is a liqueur made from cherry pits and is light and dry. If you can’t find the liqueur, triple sec will work. Hemingway’s original daiquiri contained no sugar, making it quite a mouthful tart. The addition of agave syrup lends just enough sweetness and a tiny bit more color, making the drink both prettier and better balanced.
Hot honey blackberry margarita
1 ½ ounces Santo Blanco tequila
¾ ounce Maraschino liqueur
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon blackberry jam
1 teaspoon Mike’s Hot Honey (or other chili-infused honey)
5 large blackberries (one reserved for garnish)
1 edible blue flower (hibiscus, pea flower or hyacinth)
Place one scoop of ice in the bottom of a blender, add first six ingredients and blend on low until thoroughly combined but not watery. Pour contents into a chilled serving glass and garnish with the reserved blackberry and the edible flower.
Note: The blue hyacinth has an off-color nickname just a bit too racy for a family publication.