Often overshadowed by its forerunner, the mint julep, the origin of the classic whiskey smash stands open to interpretation. The earliest dates back to 1862 and talks about a peculiarly American drink wildly popular among the denizens of the South. The recipe called for a simple concoction of muddled mint leaves and sugar with equal parts peach and regular brandy served over cracked ice. It sounds like a textbook formula for a southern style julep sans the rye or bourbon, but just like any good whiskey needs time to mature, so do cocktail formulas.
The smash makes a couple of notable appearances over the next hundred years – included by mixology luminaries like Harry Johnson and Harry Craddock in their celebrated cocktail almanacs. Each time, the recipe changed slightly. It evolved from a meek mixture of seasonal fruits and whiskey of unspecified parentage to a delicate fusion of bourbon, rye or Canadian Club with powdered sugar and exactly “four sprigs of mint".
More often than not, bar keeping literature from turn-of-the-century Europe and America largely write off the smash simply as a smaller version of the julep. Unless you take into account the tiny additions that the recipe has picked up over its many reincarnations, the difference between a smash and a julep is simply fodder for a semantics debate. So what exactly do you need to make a smash and how do you mix it?
Mix Your Own Whiskey Smash
1 large measure of Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old bourbon
7 sprigs of mint
20ml gomme syrup
Put the lemon in a shaker along with 2 sprigs of mint and muddle well. Fill up the shaker with ice, throw in the 4 sprigs of mint and pour in the gomme syrup. Shake well and double strain into an old-fashioned glass over either crushed or cracked ice. Lightly crush the last sprig of mint, using it as garnish along with a slice of lime, and serve with a long straw.
Perhaps it’s fitting that a cocktail be named after Scotland’s national poet – Robert Burns. After all, Scotch is arguably the country’s most significant contribution to the world. Needless to say, Auld Lang Syne is sung with full throated ease whenever friends meet after a long time over a bottle of the finest malt.
There’s nothing more sophisticated than sipping on a glass of a classic Brown Derby cocktail. Invented at the Vendôme bar in Hollywood in 1930, this smooth blend was named after the iconic chain of restaurants in 20th century Los Angeles. These were widely popular back in the day, and stood out for their distinctive ‘derby hat’ shape.
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