At the Kentucky Derby this weekend, there are only two certainties: thoroughbreds will run for the roses, and thousands standing on two feet will sip on bourbon smashed with mint. Jockeys and juleps are intrinsically linked in the culture of Churchill Downs. The classic Mint Julep has been the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby for more than a century, and each year, the demand calls for 1,000 pounds of fresh mint for muddling.
In our constant search for what’s next in culture, we’ve often wondered what will become of the movement for well-made craft cocktails. It’s certainly been a trend to celebrate – bringing back classic recipes and methods, taking time to build and enjoy a drink constructed with premium ingredients. But perhaps Paper Plane is the most nuanced answer for what’s on the horizon.
Shrubs first popped up in cocktail culture in the late 1800s and early 1900s when some would preserve the liquid in the bottom of a fruit barrel and use it as mixers. They lost popularity during Prohibition but are making a comeback as bartenders are increasingly using the blend of berries or aromatics, sugar and vinegar to enhance the flavor of spirits. Contributing to the movement, the new Atlanta-based Shrub & Co handcrafts three shrub flavors for those looking to spice up their libations at home.
Drinkers who love single-malt Scotch whisky, but who also prefer to support an American product like bourbon, will soon get to have the best of both worlds. And in the meantime, we can enjoy one of the most unique spirits on the market.
A few years ago we told you the story of three guys who started making homemade brews and having friends over on Monday nights to taste it. And now, after all those evenings experimenting with recipes and turning a passion into a legitimate business, they are celebrating the opening of their own Westside brewery on Monday, January 28.