Today’s post is from our guest writer, the original JLH!:

I usually don’t feel the need to add onto Jacquie’s restaurant reviews, partly because we discuss most of the stuff over dinner and partly because I proof her postings so I subtly inject my comments that way. This time however, if I had injected my comments into her latest review it would have been far too obvious because Jacquie cares little about alcohol.

As she mentioned briefly, Jacquie ordered a mint julep and it was by far one of the best I’ve had. Mint Juleps are simple in practice –

  1. Prepare a mint simple syrup the night before by boiling 1 cup of water and 1.5 cups of sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Throw in about 15-20 sprigs of mint and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight so the syrup is infused with mint flavor.
  2. When preparing the drink, add a few mint leaves to a rocks glass (or stainless steel cup if you’re authentic), add a quick splash of bourbon and then muddle. Add a large handful of crushed ice, and then add a 2:1 ratio of bourbon to simple syrup until the glass is filled. A traditional garnish of fresh mint sprig is optional.

– but delicate in execution. If you think it’s easy you can try one of Wildwood’s and then compare it to mine, which for some reason turns out to taste just like bourbon over ice with a little mint flavor. It’s going to take much more practice for me to get it right.

So anyway, the mint julep at Wildwood was surprisingly delicious. As for the rest of the bourbons, well, the list was excellent. I hate saying that one bourbon is better than another, or pick a favorite, mostly because bourbons are not meant to be created equal.

If I was pushed to pick a favorite though, I’d say that Maker’s Mark is it because of it’s versatility in my drinking world. Maker’s Mark is excellent served neat, with Coke, or in a Manhattan, which are my three favorite drinks. I would go so far to say that a Manhattan with something other than Maker’s is not a Manhattan. Side note: Babbo has the best Manhattan in the city – I enjoyed it so much that I called them for the recipe and served their version on my wedding day.

But Maker’s obviously isn’t the best on the market – in fact I love Hirsch and Pappy much more in regards purely to flavor – but you’ll be paying 3x as much for these upper echelon bourbons. Regarding Wildwood’s selection, I was impressed because:

  • It had a few things I love (i.e. Hirsch, Pappy and Four Roses) giving it my stamp of approval
  • It didn’t list Jack Daniels under the bourbons
  • Most importantly, it had selections I had never heard of, which is a rare but excellent happenstance

At this particular dinner I chose to try the Parker Heritage, which turned out to be a whole new bourbon experience. Honestly, I can’t begin to properly review bourbons with my limited knowledge, but I can say that the Parker’s Heritage isn’t for the faint of heart. I would never introduce someone to bourbons using this one, but for someone that enjoys scotches or bourbons or even finer rums, I would tell them to try it. It turns out that not only is this limited edition, but it’s cask strength, which gives it the extra umph that I respect.

By the way, that extra “umph” is why I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to newbies. It’s an intense combination of flavors that may be a bit much – the best I can liken it too is shoving tons of dark chocolate in your mouth. Not because the bourbon was chocolaty, but because as wonderful as choclate is, shoving mounds of it your mouth is a sensory overload and can be too much for novices. For the record, I love that sensory overload.

Anyhow, I’d suggest using Jacquie’s excellent recommendation for the BBQ and foodstuffs, but if you want my opinion on which bourbon to order, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

And now I leave you with a picture of the mint julep I made while watching the Kentucky Derby, in none other than a fleur de lis rocks glass.