HAMPTON ROADS, Va. -
CHEERS TO THE MINT JULEP
THE UNOFFICIAL COCKTAIL OF SPRING
We love mint juleps, the unofficial cocktail of spring. These boozy creations have been part of Virginia’s history for 200-plus years.
Virginian crafted the first mint julep and popularized the drink in the 18th and 19th centuries. We like to use a Virginia bourbon, like one from Norfolk’s Reverend Spirits.
Although typically served in a pewter cup, you can use a mule cup or glass. Crushed ice is the key for a frosty, icy drink.
Enjoy our Most Marvelous Mint Julep all spring, and even into the summer months. The recipe comes from our upcoming book, “Virginia Distilled: Four Centuries of Drinking in the Old Dominion.” Here’s how to make it:
In a chilled julep or other pewter or silver cup, or in a mule or other copper mug, add 6-8 mint leaves, 1-1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar, and a slash of water and muddle. Pack the cup/mug with crushed or shaved ice and pour on 3 ounces Virginia bourbon. Sprinkle a very generous amount of confectioner’s sugar and press multiple sprigs of fresh mint into the ice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge. Serve with an ecologically-friendly straw.
Bourbon comes from Reverend Spirits in Norfolk, www.ReverendSpirits.com
For more information on Virginia Distilled: Four Centuries of Drinking in the Old Dominion, visit www.VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com/VirginiaDistilled
SEASONAL EATS + DRINKS
PREPARE NOW FOR STRAWBERRY SEASON
Strawberries are a harbinger of the season. Soon the red fruit will be popping up across Coastal Virginia.
Look for them in farmers markets and at farm stands. There are also a number of u-pick strawberry farms in the area.
Here are a few of our Five Essential Berry Storage Tips for when you get the fruit home:
1. Do not wash berries until you are ready to use them; this will help prevent rot.
2. If you are not going to use berries right away, remove any damaged/rotting fruit and store the in several small containers to prevent overcrowding and refrigerate covered loosely with paper or cloth towels.
3. If you need to prep berries for use within a day or so, wash gently under cool running water and place on paper towels to dry. Cut off the caps and store in a loosely packed bowl in the refrigerator covered loosely with paper or cloth towels.
4. If you need to store berries for a longer term, freeze them. To freeze so that berries retain their shape, wash gently under cool running water and place on paper towels to drain then before freezing pat dry. Do not freeze too many berries at once or it will overtax the freezer; place berries on a lipped baking sheet evenly space and, once frozen, transfer to airtight freezer bags or containers. Continue until all berries are frozen.
5. You can freeze berries in bulk by washing them gently under cool running water and place on paper towels to dry. Cut off the caps and slice or crush the fruit and place in a bowl. Add sugar to taste, stir to incorporate and transfer to airtight freezer bags or containers.
If you’d like our Five Essential Berry U-Pick Shopping Tips and our Five Essential Berry Picking Tips, email us at PatrickEvansHylton@gmail.com with “Strawberry Tips” as the subject.
One way we like to use strawberries is to make Strawberry Ice Cubes; here’s how:
Cap strawberries and poke with skewers. Optionally, add prepared berries to a small bowl and marinate in liqueur, refrigerated, for 2-3 hours. Place berries evenly spaced apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, capped-side down. Freeze berries for 2-3 hours; transfer to a freezer bag or container and store in the freezer until ready to add to drinks.
For information on where to pick your own fresh berries, www.VDACS.Virginia.gov/VaGrown
FABULOUS FOOD FIND
SEAFOOD-CENTRIC BITES AT CROC’S
Croc’s 19th Street Bistro is a staple in Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District. The restaurant has been around for more than 25 years.
Dishes vary, but showcase seafood as well as owner Kal Habr’s Lebanese background. We recently dined and make three seafood-centric apps our entree. Here is what we enjoyed:
+ Crab Dip
+ Gator Bites
+ Beer-battered shrimp
Each bite was Two Yums Up. Bravo to owners Kal and Laura Habr and crew.
For more on Croc’s, visit www.Crocs19thStreetBistro.com
FOR MORE VIRGINIA EATS + DRINKS
Get all the information from today’s Virginia Eats + Drinks on Coast Live segment plus more: giveaways, recipes, tips, and tricks on our Facebook group.
Join today, www.facebook.com/groups/VirginiaEatsAndDrinks