If you read my post a few days ago, “Dear Blood Oranges: I think we’re through,” you might have (reasonably) assumed that there would be no more posts on blood oranges forthcoming. I mean, I’ve already praised them to high heaven in past posts, like “The Apothecary” and “Blood orange cocktails: Redux.” And I thought I was ready to move on.
But, you know how sometimes, after you break up with a boyfriend, you have to hook up with him one more time to just get it out of your system? No? Okay, then. Never mind.
You might have read about the Momofuku pork bun extravaganza that I co-hosted last weekend. Since Ron made these crazily decadent Momofuku pork buns …
and his fiancée Arlie assembled perhaps the most beautiful crudité platter I’ve ever seen …
you know, to lessen the effects of eating great gobs of pork fat, that meant I was free to do nothing but make cocktails.
Despite my initial plan to make no more than two or three cocktails, my enthusiasm got the better of me, as usual, and I put together a menu of seven drinks, plus a few off-the-menu specials.
The fun thing about serving so many drinks is that it always helps you discover which drinks appeal to the greatest number of people. Inevitably, there’s one cocktail that rises to the top, and that guests keep coming back for again and again.
At this party that drink was the Pimlico, a delightful bourbon and mint cocktail that originated at The Hungry Cat, in Los Angeles. I have loved this drink since I discovered it a few years ago, although I have never seen it anywhere other than in a cocktail book published by Food and Wine Magazine. In my mind, it’s the perfect alternative to a Mint Julep, which always seems like a good idea, but packs a very powerful wallop for those not used to drinking straight spirits, since it’s nothing more than bourbon, sugar, and mint. The Pimlico, on the other hand, contains both lime and orange juice, which tempers the drink a bit, and means that you can drink at least two or three before you have to take a nap underneath the dining room table.
The original Pimlico is a real winner, and I’d heartily suggest you try it sometime. But, since I had some leftover blood orange juice after the party, I decided to try it out in this drink, and it was delicious. I also substituted superfine sugar for the simple syrup used in the original recipe, since I find that when you’re muddling mint, mashing it up with some granulated sugar helps extract the most flavor out of the mint. I also tweaked the proportions slightly. So after you try the original Pimlico—which I thoroughly recommend—you might try this variation, if blood oranges are in season where you live.
Blood Orange Pimlico
3 sprigs of fresh mint, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce blood orange juice
In a cocktail shaker, combine the leaves from the 3 mint sprigs with the sugar and lime juice. Muddle until the mint is very aromatic. Add the bourbon and blood orange juice. Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into a highball or similar glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with the remaining mint sprig.