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Drink Of The Week: Mint Julep

This week's Drink Of The Week is the Mint Julep. With Derby Day just around the corner and a spring that started early in the midwest, it's time to get your mint in the ground. Even if it wont be ready by Sunday, there will be plenty of oppurtunity for you to use mint in cocktails this summer. In the mean time, pick up some fresh mint at the grocery store and I'll show you how to make this delicious classic.

The Mint Julep is probably the oldest cocktail there is. Today, it's a southern tradition that has been popular for centuries, and it's also the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. That's because the Julep we know is usually made with delicious Kentucky Bourbon, but it wasn't always so.

Early accounts of the Julep represent this drink as a medicinal libation, or more specifically, a vehicle for

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Ice Spheres Revisited

A while back, I posted a lengthy description about How To Make Ice Spheres. If you recall, spheres of ice that fill your glass originated in Japan where they are hand-carved behind the bar. The large spheres keep drinks cold with very slow dilution. Not wanting to risk slicing a finger, I opted for alternatives to carving, but the best alternative is a very expensive ice melting device. So, I explored slow-molding options and until recently had settled on a two-part 3-sphere ice tray to pull this off. My tedious process often involved refreezing mis-shapen "eggs" in order to get the proper spherical aesthetic—until now!

Enter the Muji silicone Ice Ball mold. This unique and inexpensive mold does a fantastic job making spheres without the problems and hassles associated with a thin plastic tray. I was so happy to finally see these in stock at Muji online

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Antique Shows and Crushed Ice

Anyone who knows me understands that I enjoy antique shopping. It's often furniture that most people associate with antiques, and I admit that I am constantly on the lookout for new pieces. But in addition to all of the items you might find to decorate your home, there is an incredible variety of glassware and miscellaneous bar tools to uncover. You won't always find bargain prices, but you can find unique items. My wife and I especially enjoy hitting weekend estate sales and seasonal antique shows, but any shop or showroom of dealers can yield treasures.

So, what does this have to do with ice? In our last Drink Of The Week we poured our cocktail over crushed ice and I mentioned that I crush mine by hand. I thought I would share some of the tools I use for this and hopefully inspire you look for cocktails that

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Drink Of The Week: Chimp In Orbit

Chimp In Orbit, huh? This ought to be good! I admit, it's a really odd name for a drink. So, why monkeys in space?

This week in history. . . I was researching this week in history and found a few things that seemed thematic to me, although not every story has a good ending. First, on this day in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I know, it's not a happy event, and it's certainly not an image most of us will forget. So, let's just get the sad stuff out of the way first. In the coming week on February 1, 2003, the world watched in shock and disbelief as the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry. Again, it's another sad day for the space program. Meaning no disrespect to those brave spacefarers who lost their lives, there were a couple positive achievements that also occurred.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Mixologist

For some people it's a burden and for others it's a joy—that time of the year when everyone is expected to exchange gifts. Whether or not you enjoy the holiday season there is one thing most of us agree upon: how frustrating it can be to try to come up with good gift ideas. Sure, there's amazing and expensive technology out there with plenty of fun gadgets that will be obsolete by this time next year, but how about a more traditional approach? Why not give a gift that will inspire or will teach, or will assist? I'm talking about useful gifts for the mixologist in your family.

A Shopping List I've written before about using good tools and technique with an emphasis on making the most of what you already own. That's fine for the rest of the year, but this is the perfect time to consider items

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How To Make Spheres of Ice

In a recent article, I described the importance of ice in your cocktail, describing the different kinds of ice you may want to use depending on what you are drinking. If you have ever visited the Bradstreet Crafthouse or a handful of other fine destinations, you may have marveled at the drinks that feature incredible spheres of ice—smooth glacial planetoids that literally span the entire width of the glass. Much more than mere aesthetics, these arctic wonders are functional, keeping their cocktails cold while minimizing dilution. That's because a sphere has the smallest possible surface area for a given volume. Less surface area means less melt, and that results in longer sip time without loss of flavor or temperature.

So how does a bar create a 3-inch sphere of ice? The only answer, up until a couple of years ago was that they carved it! The ice

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Ice isn't just cool, it's important!

It may sound silly to some people, but ice is probably the most important part of your drink. I know, you are probably thinking sure, ice makes your drink cold, but what's the big deal? Well, until you understand the multiple roles ice plays in a cocktail you won't see how important it really is.

What is ice? It sounds like a stupid question because ice is obviously frozen water, but depending on how it is frozen and the quality of the water, ice will behave differently in your cocktail. In addition, the size and shape of the ice pieces can have a dramatic effect on the dilution rate, cooling efficiency, and the overall aesthetics of the drink.

Size matters In any cocktail, you need to realize that the ice is going to shed water into the mixture, so the ice you select will affect the ability to cool the

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