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Dear Drink: Perfect Mint Julep

An open letter to the Perfect Mint Julep at Asado

PERFECT MINT JULEP: Drink it everyday!

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Dear Perfect Mint Julep,

Why did I choose to write about you, Perfect Mint Julep?

People often ask me if I have a checklist of drinks I plow through for this column. Well, all I really need to know I learned in my email inbox: I'm holding between 25 and 30 pounds of fat in my intestines; Amazing secrets are hidden by nothing more than a mouse click; Approval is guaranteed; Hey meet me at the 1022 South for an earthquake cocktail (gin, whiskey, absinthe). I'll be the suicidal genius experiencing intellectualized poverty: tattered olive-green pants, Salvation Army oxfords, a dirty black T-shirt and a holey cardigan. So off to the 1022 Lounge I went.

Here's another request that came via email: What? Are you made of money? Why don't you drink Miller? You sock garter-wearing, starched French cuffs poofter with a tiny gecko sewn to your lapel.

Nice, huh?

When spam and readers don't send me suggestions, I turn inward for inspiration. I light a candle, squirt some aromatherapy gunk in my wife's electric potpourri cooker, chant my mantra, "Gimme, gimme, gimme," and go into a foggy trance. Through the mist I see a flicker of light. A voice in my head says, "Go to the light." I go. After I've cleaned up the spilled wax, I wait. When nothing happens, I dump a bunch of Maker's Mark in a tumbler, sit down at my computer and start typing about past drinks. After I've written what amounts to three columns, I hit the delete key, turn off my computer and go to bed. After four or so days of this, with my deadline upon me, I finally bang something out, unencumbered by any ideas whatsoever.

People also ask if I ever orchestrate events in my life for this column. Of course I don't. Life is a beautiful, spontaneous experience to be savored - not to be meddled with for one's own selfish and dramatic ends.

OK, the truth is, it doesn't work. Believe me, I just tried.

Which ... leads ... me ... back to you Perfect Mint Julep. I chose you because A) I refuse to acknowledge certain food and drink specialties should be available just once a year, and B) your first name is Perfect.

Traditionally, your consumption has been limited to Kentucky Derby day. Why? I'm not sure. Legend has it that mint was planted outside the clubhouse of Churchill Downs in loo-uh-vill so that you could be served at the first Kentucky Derby, in 1875. It wasn't until 1938 when Churchill Downs crowned you, although I hear the racetrack uses Kentucky whiskey as well as bourbon. Before your Derby fame, Southern farmers would sip you as morning pick-me-up. Your true origins can be traced as early as the 1800s in London, where you were loosely defined as a mixture of mint, sugar and spirits.

Anyway, it's silly only to drink you on Derby Day. Do I only drink Voli Light Vodka Easter Blue Cotton Tails at Easter? Do I only want an Almond Joy Martini around Halloween, Pear and Cranberry Bellini at Christmas? Had McDonald's kept its Shamrock Shake on the menu year-round, perhaps children today would know the pleasure of a minty green milkshake.

When I saw you on Asado's drink menu, with your given name Perfect, I pulled the reins. Bill Samuels Jr., son of the creator of Maker's Mark, created the Perfect Mint Julep, after years of experimentation: Maker's Mark Bourbon, fresh mint, distilled water, granulated sugar and powdered sugar served over ice. As you know, you have pronounced sugar and mint notes. Your mint-sprig garnish should remain in your glass, as the herb's aroma enhances your ?avor. The headiness of the smell is so crucial to your mix that some bartenders slap the mint in their palm to infuse the air with its scent before serving you. I didn't see if the Asado bartenders slapped the mint as it was Valentine's dinner and I was gazing into my wife's beautiful eyes. I can report there was slapping later.

Whether you're perfect or not Perfect Mint Julep, I don't really care. I don't know what your effect is on my 25 to 30 pounds of fat in my intestines. All I know is sweet Jesus with a sequined Buddha costume I'm thankful those Kentucky folks with those big funny hats and old-timey slang didn't latch onto the Hot Mexican Hooker (one shot of cheap tequila, a dash of Tabasco and the liquid from one can of tuna). The first weekend in May would be disastrous.


Ron Swarner 

ASADO, 11:30 A.M. TO MIDNIGHT MONDAY-THURSDAY, 11:30-1:30 A.M. FRIDAY, 4 P.M. TO 1:30 A.M. SATURDAY, 4-10 P.M. SUNDAY, 2810 SIXTH AVE., TACOMA, 253.272.7770

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