Stirred and Shaken

Three large oil paintings of Confederate heroes line the wall of the plushly furnished room in front of the bar. They stare down upon the free happy-hour buffet with melancholy eyes. "We're known for making stiff drinks," says the bartender at The Confederate House [2925 Weslayan, (713)622-1936] as he passes over our cocktails. He ought to be known for making mint juleps. I had never really understood the herby cocktail until I drank this one.

The Confederate House's mint julep: My brother had a Derby party one year and tried to make juleps by mixing bourbon and mint together in a blender. Yuck, what a mess. I knew you put mint in each glass and muddled (crushed) it first, but I never realized you had to use so much mint. Don't skimp on the bourbon either. "I use Maker's Mark, because that's the Kentucky Derby version," the bartender says.

30 leaves of fresh mint
1/2 shot simple syrup
2 1/2 shots Maker's Mark bourbon

Put the syrup and mint leaves in the bottom of a rocks glass and crush with a blunt wooden or metal muddler until the leaves stain the syrup dark green. Fill the glass with ice and pour in the bourbon. Makes one stiff drink.

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