Julepe de Orégano
It’s Kentucky Derby time! Wait, the Derby was a month ago? Shit! Okay, well, it’s Cinco de Mayo! Wait.. it’s the… 5th of… June. Huh. Is Cinco de Junio a thing? No? Goddamnit. Well, then. This is embarrassing. I’ve been slacking off as of late, it seems. Well, if I’m honest, I haven’t been slacking off. Full disclosure: I miiight have written some of these posts during the hours of 9 to 5. Maybe. Work has been kinda nutso as of late, so… there you go.
I’ll tell you what, in the interest of time, I’ll make a variation of the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail, the Mint Julep, using everyone’s favorite spirit from Mexico, Tequila. Two birds with one stone. Así maté dos pájaros de un tiro.
And rather than delve into the origins of the Mint Julep and the history of Cinco de Mayo – which I am sure some of you were bombarded with at the beginning of May – I’ll keep this post short and sweet and spare you the details.
- 2½ oz. Cazadores Tequila Añejo
- ½ oz. agave syrup (1:1 agave nectar and water)
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano leaves (about 20 leaves or so)
Polish your julep cup to a brilliant mirror finish. That’s nice. Place the oregano leaves at the bottom of the cup along with the agave syrup. Lightly press the oregano leaves with your muddler being careful not to tear and pulverize – we just want the oregano to give up its oil, not torture it into admitting conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. Okay, once that’s done it’s time to mess up some ice. Mess it up real good. Place 8 to 10 cubes of ice into a lewis bag or tea towel and clobber it with a mallet or other blunt instrument. Despite the urge to do so, don’t use your forehead. Take the crushed ice from the bag and fill your cup about ¾ full. Add the tequila. Swizzle with a barspoon (unless, of course, you have one of those fancy Martinique-style swizzle sticks from the quararibea turbinata tree) until the sides of your cup start to frost up. Top with more ice – enough to form a mound that rises up above the brim of the cup; it should look a bit like a snow cone. Take a goodly bunch of cilantro (with stems) and give it a good smack to release its aroma (I know this works for mint; it seems to work for cilantro as well). Insert the cilantro into the snow cone and arrange into a lovely bouquet. Oh, and add a straw. ¡Pam!
I must admit I was a bit torn with respect to which Mexican spirit to select for this cocktail. Mezcal came to mind, thinking the smokiness would match nicely to the oregano. I also considered Dulce Vida Reposado, mostly due to the fact that it’s bottled at 100 proof and could stand up to the dilution inherent in a julep. Ultimately, I decided upon a tequila añejo, reasoning that it shared some of the oaky qualities of the classic spirit of this drink – whiskey.
I consider the añejo from Cazadores somewhat of a bargain: you can pick up a bottle for a smidgen over $40 at the LCBO. Comparatively, a bottle of Don Julio 1942 checks in at $100 more than the Cazardores. Mind you, the Don Julio is a lot better. But in this application, the Cazadores works just fine.
I like this variation. It’s lovely. As you bring your nose in to sip from the straw you are greeted with aromas of cilantro (which depending on the kind of person you are, may cause you to throw up in your mouth. Me? I love it). I definitely taste the pungent earthy and resinous flavours of the oregano, which blend nicely with the earthy, caramel, toasted oak notes of the tequila. Given all the ice, I find that the peppery notes of the oregano and tequila are a bit mellowed.
So is this better than a classic Mint Julep? Nah. The combination of overproof bourbon and mint is hard to beat.
Alright, I think I’ll stop here. My hands are frostbitten from holding on to this cup and can no longer type. I hope to be posting more often than once a month moving ahead. Hasta la próxima.