A couple of weeks ago, on a rare date night with my husband (we have a two-year-old, after all), we were strolling around downtown Lexington all footloose and fancy free when I noticed a "new" mural on an old, familiar wall, only to be informed it has been there for a long time. Like I said, I don't get out much.
My eyes drifted around the corner, to the front of the building, and straight into Belle's Cocktail House. True to the hip and cool image we were portraying after we ditched the decidedly un-cool mini-van in a parking lot, we decided to go inside and check it out. I assumed the name had a connection to Lexington's infamous Belle Brezing, on whom the character Belle Watlingin "Gone with the Wind" was modeled. Much to my delight, the portrait of Belle Brezing hanging in the downstairs bar confirmed this connection.
Gatewood's Manhattan caught my eye. I loved Gatewood Galbraith and a Manhattan is my favorite drink. The perfect marriage. (Okay...I must confess I asked the bartender to drop most of the liquid smoke since I dislike smoke flavor. I felt guilty about it, but reassured myself that Gatewood would tell me to do whatever the heck I wanted.)
Although not on the menu, our bartender told us about Belle's own Josh Naylor's prize winning Berry Cobbler Mint Julep, People’s Choice Winner 2014 Four Roses Mint Julep Competition. He had me at "berry cobbler." If you're looking for a new julep recipe or find yourself in Belle's neighborhood, I highly recommend this delicious beauty. (It may not be on the menu, so be sure to ask for it.)
People’s Choice Winner 2014 Four Roses Mint Julep Competition
(Published by The Bourbon Review)
Recipe by Josh Naylor of Belle’s Cocktail House (Lexington, KY)
- 15-20 mint leaves (depending on size)
- 8-10 blueberries (depending on size)
- 1/4 lemon
- .75 oz blackberry simple syrup
- .25 oz vanilla cinnamon simple syrup
- 1.75 oz Four Roses Small Batch
- Crushed ice
- Plum bitters
- Mint sprig (for garnish)
- Lemon twist (for garnish)
Add mint leaves, blueberries and the juice of a 1/4 of a lemon into the bottom of a double rocks glass. Gently muddle just enough to break up the blueberries and release the oils of the mint. Add the blackberry syrup, vanilla cinnamon syrup and the bourbon directly into the glass. Fill halfway with crushed ice. With a bar spoon stir the contents in order to pull the muddled ingredients up away from the bottom of the glass. Fill the rest of the way with crushed ice mounding it as much as possible. Add 1-2 dashes of plum bitters on top of mounded ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and fresh sprig of mint.
Vanilla Cinnamon Simple Syrup
In a sauce pan add 16 oz. light brown sugar, 16 oz. distilled water, 1 whole vanilla bean split in half, 1 whole cinnamon stick and 1 whole allspice berry. Bring all ingredients to a boil making sure to stir constantly in order to help the sugar completely dissolve and not burn. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce by half (about 30 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool and strain into a resealable container or storm pourer ready for use.
Blackberry Simple Syrup
In a sauce pan add 16 oz. light brown sugar, 16 oz. distilled water, 8 oz. fresh blackberries and 1/4 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg. Bring all ingredients to a boil making sure to stir constantly in order to help the sugar completely dissolve and not burn. Also use the spoon you are stirring with to help break up the berries and release their juice. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce by half (about 30 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool and strain (making sure to press the berries to get out all the liquid leaving nothing but the seeds and pulp in the strainer) into a resealable container or storm pourer ready for use.
The Bourbon Review is hosting its first annual Bourbon Review Derby Party, Derby At Belle's. $30 tickets include brunch with Wild Eggs, 3 drinks and giveaways for best Derby Hat and Dapper Dressed Guy. Proceeds go toward the Friends of the Lexington Mounted Police.