Today’s drink of the day should be of special interest to the bar-tenders of the Edison. One of my students that fell in love with this drink in the Standard Drinks Course (everyone does) related to me that he had trouble getting one when he ordered it. I started to tell him that it’s not fair to bother any typical bar-tender of today with such a request, but caught myself. When I found out that it happened at the Edison, I told him that they deserved it. He told me that the first bartender gave him a Whiskey Basil Julep, which he appropriately returned. Giving whiskey when gin was requested is not correct. Then, a second Edison bartender served my student a Gin Basil Collins (or Gin Basil Mojito, if you prefer). In came the gin, but out went the julep! I know — modern bartenders often ignore the palate and group drinks together by the tasks they perform in making them. Hence the simplistic view that the Mojito is some sort of julep. Modern bartenders also tend to add lemon or lime juice wherever possible. This sin of making every other type of drink into a punch is often done by wet-behind-the-ears bar-tenders who are still excited about using fresh juice. That is so 2007 — and it would’ve never been exciting at all if the industry hadn’t so shamefully embraced the fake stuff for so long.
Perhaps the Edison (and other places pretending to practice traditional, American mixology) will see these recipes and learn how to serve this great drink without ruining by applying their modern assumptions. Sure, the drink itself did not exist long ago – but the clear understanding of the words ‘gin’ and ‘julep’ did. It was fairly common to find juleps based on many different spirits and served ‘up’ in goblets without ice before 1900. The only new thing here might be the basil.