Slap, slap; take that you feisty little mint leaf, you.
I’m attempting to recreate the Gin Gin Mule my son, Zan, and his girlfriend, Lucy, made for me last week. Planning to serve up a batch, I need a specific recipe. When quizzing Lucy as to the preparation, I told her I was going to chop the mint, and she was aghast, insisting I never chop herbs prior to putting them into a drink. I must muddle or slap them instead, which means gently pressing them to express their oils, lightly abridging them instead of breaking them apart.
OK, OK, I know all about muddling herbs for cocktails, but I didn’t know that chopping was cause for disbarment. Now I do – got it. Lucy continued to explain that muddling is a bit different than slapping, as it involves using slightly more pressure, but not enough to break the herb, only bruise it. A slap “wakes up the herb”.
Lucy explained that Audrey Saunders, a big player in the international cocktail scene, is the woman who invented the Gin Gin Mule, and Lucy had the chance to meet her at her bar, Pegu Club, in Manhatten last year. Lucy tells me “…she was incredibly sweet and personable”.
Pegu Club, located in the Soho district, is one of the first venues to have a serious cocktail program based on fresh ingredients, looking backwards to the original classics of the 19th century and pre-prohibition. Ms. Saunder’s award-winning club is regarded as having set the gold standard for modern mixology served in an atmosphere of classic restraint.
Lucy insisted I be quite specific to you about the ginger beer. Never use carbonated ginger beer, but a fresh-made ginger beer or a ginger syrup. The Pegu Club ginger beer yields a gallon, which Lucy explains is easy to use up in a number of fine cocktails. Lucy uses a ginger syrup that I included in the recipe below. Use the recipe for the ginger beer on the link above or the ginger syrup below, but you won’t have a Mule if you skip this ingredient.
I asked Lucy about the bitters used in her recipe; they weren’t incorporated into the Pegu Club version. She explained that she used Peychaud’s Bitters, “… which are not in the original recipe, but because of its grapefruit and spritely profile, works well dashed on top, adding lots of visual appeal”. I would agree; I loved the addition to the drink.
Lucy explains Peychaud’s can be found at any fine liquor store, and is the chief component of one of America’s oldest cocktails, The Sazerac, which includes rye whiskey, Demerara simple syrup, and Peychaud’s, all stirred and strained into a chilled glass rinsed with absinthe, with lemon oil expressed over the top to finish.
Absinthe? Wasn’t that the beverage of choice for Van Gogh and his merry band of Impressionists? Wasn’t Van Gogh heavy into that specific intoxicant while committing the unsavory act to his ear? Indeed, wasn’t absinthe outlawed until just a few years ago in this country? All in the name of good research, but if I continue down this jolly little path, you’d best cast a watchful eye on my next few posts. Bottoms Up!