Stepping out of the whiskey comfort zone to build you a tropical riff on a julep with some rum and pineapple for this Pineapple Sage Julep. My juleps this week are only broadly juleps. They aren’t strict in the sense of whiskey, sugar, herb and cracked ice, but for a lot of people, the julep can be overwhelming if you’re not a whiskey enthusiast. My goal this week is to think about the idea of a julep and see what flavors may meld well together. At the end of the day, if you’ve got a frosty metal julep cup with some spirits, cracked ice and an herb garnish, I’ll call it a success and know that we had fun on the way.
You’re in the middle of Quarantine Julep week (I supposed we could call it Quarantulep week) – a series of 5 riffs on the classic mint julep recipe. As April is Mint Julep month, I wanted to make sure to play with this classic whiskey cocktail while still in April. We’ve previously done Quarantine Old Fashioneds (Breakfast Wakey Wakey, Smoke and Spice, Home School, Taco Truck, and Campari/Bitter Lessons ), Quarantine Manhattans (Balanced Perfection (Perfect Manhattan), Coffee Manhattan, Chocolate Ginger Manhattan, French Quarter Manhattan, and the Caramel Orange Manhattan.), Quarantine Whiskey Sours (Blackberry Sunset, Whiskey Tiki, Blue Mood Orange, Ya Basic, and Peach Rosemary), and Quarantine Smashes (Whiskey Smash, Blackberry Sage Smash, Pineapple Tiki Smash, Strawberry Basil Smash and the Coffee Cherry Smash.)
For this julep, I wanted to pretend I had been transported to a tropical island where the beaches were open, a fun beach-side bar was serving drinks and I had a lovely umbrella to sit under while I watched the surf. I started with pineapple juice since I had some leftover from whiskey sour and smash week. Since we’re in quarantine – waste not, want not.
But instead of using a straight mint simple syrup, I infused the base pineapple juice with torn sage leaves from my garden. And, instead of using an aged rum, I wanted to punch up the vegetal notes a bit by using rhum agricole as the spirit base.
Now, to me, a whiskey drinker, rhum agricole tastes much like white dog or unaged distillate you might find at a distillery. It’s not a set of flavors I generally try to blend into cocktails, but since the pineapple simple is so sweet, pairing with the rhum agricole was a good match.
If you don’t have that type of rum, I would use any white or gold rum you like if you’re adding the curacao for the color. And if you don’t mind the final color of your cocktail, use a lovely aged rum with some punch to it to get through the sweetness of the pineapple simple.
I added a bit of a spiced liqueur to the cocktail to punch up a little bitterness. The Besamim Aromatic Spiced Liqueur from Sukkah Hill Spirits is a fantastic addition here. It plays the role I might usually reserve for St Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. It adds a kick of clove and strong cinnamon and a tiny bit of anise. The sweetness of the pineapple needs that kick of spice to shine through with the rhum’s unaged notes. It broadens the palate of the drink, leaving it sippable, but adding some depth.
Would a traditionalist call this a true julep? Absolutely not. But, in the spirit of the Derby that isn’t and trying new traditions for the weirdest first Saturday in May (traditionally Derby day when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic) I’m going off book for these riffs. Quite frankly, I need the distraction, and perhaps so do you. So try out the cocktail and let me know what you think!
Pineapple Sage Rum Julep
- 1 oz pineapple sage simple** (see recipe below)
- 5 sage leaves
- 2 oz rum (I used rhum Agricole, but for a less vegetal/distillate taste, try a white or gold rum)
- ¼ oz blue curacao (completely optional – I wanted a fun color for this cocktail since I’m going tropical)
- ¼ oz Besamim Aromatic Spice liqueur (or St Elizabeth's Allspice Dram)
- Garnish: pineapple spear and sage garnish
- Take a single sage leaf and rub over the rim and interior surface of the julep cup before filling it with cracked or crushed ice. Combine the torn sage leaves, and pineapple-sage simple in a mixing glass. Muddle the sage leaves well, then add the rum and curacao if using. Add ice and stir until well combined. Strain into the prepared julep cup and garnish with a large sprig of fresh sage, a pineapple spear and a straw tucked right into the sage sprig.