Friday, January 3, 2014

The Mischievous Mixologist: Nashville Mule



Nashville Mule

1 ½- 2 ounces Jim Beam Devil’s Cut 90
4-6 ounces ginger brew
2 T crushed ginger
1 T simple syrup
Juice 1 lime
Shake and serve with lots of ice





This drink is a bourbon variation on the Moscow Mule.   I had it in Nashville, pictured here, as a Jack’s Mule.  But I changed it, and renamed it the Nashville Mule, in honor of our recent trip.   

Why Nashville, you ask?  Good question.  Well, we weren't in Mexico.  We also didn’t go to Chicago, which is where we usually go around New Year's. Chicago has great museums and restaurants.  We love it there at the holidays.  And it’s only a 3-hour drive, as opposed to the 10-hour haul to Music City.   

But then, we’re a driving people.   We’re a driving people mostly because I hate flying.   As I'm sure my husband would attest, driving 10 hours – with road construction delays, snow delays, and Illinois pit stop Subway's for lunch-- is still easier than enduring air travel with me on board.

Driving also works for us because we often plan trips at the last minute.  As we’ve discovered in the course of our poor planning, driving is a great way to see the countryside.  Like, up close and personal.   The Midwest is landlocked, y’all.  It’s a challenge to find fabulous fresh oysters on the half shell.  But if you get in the car and drive -- for a mere 10 hours -- you can get to some real down home places.  See yourself some America.  

The main reason we went to Nashville over this New Year’s holiday was that our friends, Justine and Michael, were there.   I have known Justine since college.   Way back in college, Justine gave me a bootleg recording of Joni Mitchell playing the mandolin.  Justine herself plays the banjo, which I discovered years later, when we both lived in New York.  Due to Justine’s cultural influence – and the time I spent in North Carolina in grad school, doing dissertation research – I eventually got into bluegrass music.   And of course, that road goes straight back to Nashville.

Even if Justine hadn’t introduced me to bluegrass, we had to rally for Nashville.  Justine always rallies.  We felt like it was our turn.   Coincidentally, Justine and I both love barbeque.  And bourbon.  Of course we do.  In New York, we used to say we were food soul sisters.  We love all the same foods.  Especially things that are sour, salty, and savory.  I don't know why.  Probably it's an Irish thing.   But what better person to meet in Nashville – and drink bourbon with – than my rallying, banjo-playing, Celtic food-soul-sister?

A brief note about ingredients (and one more story).  Our waiter in Nashville was a British guy named Ian.  Ian used to work as a butler for the royal family in England.   He left because the pay sucked.  Then he came to America to work for a rich American guy, who was not very nice.  I know who it is, but I can’t tell you.  In any case, I learned how to make a Jack’s Mule from Ian.  I asked him to write down their recipe:


    


Like I said, though, I changed it.  For one thing, I used Jim Beam Devil's Cut 90 instead of Jack Daniels Single Barrel.   No particular reason.  I like them both.   I also used ginger brew, instead of ginger ale, for a stronger flavor.  

The best part of this drink is the ginger puree.  If I were making large quantities of it, I’d have done it in a blender.  For a few drinks, I just chopped up a chunk of ginger, mixed it with a few tablespoons of simple syrup and fresh lime juice, and then mashed it, old school, with my mortar and pestle.  It came out pretty chunky, so I poured it into the glass with a cocktail strainer.  This worked fine for one or two glasses, but I’m sure there are better ways.  Like, the blender.


                      



This drink is one of the best ever.  It’s spicy and fragrant and icy and refreshing.   Enjoy it as a tribute to Nashville, to friendship, and to 2014!  

Happy New Year, y’all!





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