“The Great Gatsby” Mint Julep & Blackberry Gin Rickey

by Cara Nicoletti on May 4, 2013

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One of my favorite high school English teachers once told me that the most beautiful line in all of literature comes from The Great Gatsby. I can still recite the line by heart after over a decade—“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

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Now here’s the part where I admit something that I’ve only ever told a few people: I do not like this book. Even that beautiful sentence that has stuck in my brain all of these years, a line so cherished by one of the smartest women I’ve ever known bothered me. Why are the men men and the women are girls? Are they actually girls, and if they are then why are they hanging out with men? Are they actually women, and if they are then why are they being called “girls”?

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I think I was the only kid in my class, certainly the only girl, who wasn’t completely bonkers for the novel when we read it sophomore year. I’ve held this secret close to my chest all this time, feeling like it was some sort of literature-lover-defect that would expose me as a fraud, but it’s time to come clean. I felt nothing for the spoiled, rotten, selfish characters (I know, I know, you’re kind of supposed to hate them), their excess and carelessness made me anxious (I know, I know, it’s supposed to), and the women, ugh.

Even in high school, though, I knew that mint juleps and “gin rickeys that clicked full of ice” were something worth growing up for—their names alone could cool you off.

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The anniversary of my first ever mint julep is today, Derby Day. I had my first one six years ago, surrounded by a bunch of Southerners in floppy hats and starched collared shirts at a bar in the West Village where the races were turned up way too loud and the bartenders looked overwhelmed. As an East-Coaster, Derby Day was not a holiday that was on my radar at all, and walking into that bar felt a little bit like stumbling into a foreign country. I sipped mint julep after mint julep out of a plastic cup with a neon straw, feeling grown-up and giddy with sugar and brain-freeze and bottom-shelf bourbon.

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Not only is today Derby Day, it is also officially less than a week until the big, sparkly blockbuster adaptation of The Great Gatsby is released in theatres, so I’m sure a lot of you have already reached your mint-julep-recipe-total-saturation point. That’s why you’re also going to get a recipe for the best Tom Collins I’ve ever had.

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Mint juleps have a history dating back to the 1700′s, which means that people have very strong opinions about the right and wrong ways to make them. I’m not trying to make anyone mad, so I asked my amazing cousin, Cameron, who bartends at Minetta Tavern, to help me make something unarguably delicious. The origin of the word julep comes from the Persian “julâb” which means “rosewater” so he added a tiny splash of that, and it made all the difference in the world. We used Widow Jane Bourbon, which is mashed in Kentucky but finished with limestone water in Long Island where The Great Gatsby takes place. It’s a really spectacular bourbon, but any one you like will do just fine.

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The Great Gatsby Mint Julep
Make 1 10 oz Julep

  • Ingredients:
    6 fresh mint leaves plus a sprig for garnish
    2 teaspoons superfine sugar plus another tsp for dusting
    ½ oz water
    2 ½ oz good bourbon
    1/8 oz (teeny dash) rose water
    Ice

    Directions:
    Place your mint leaves, superfine sugar, and ½ oz of water in a glass and lightly crush your mint leaves to open them up and release their oils. Add 2 ½ oz bourbon and 1/8 oz of rose water. Crush ice to into chips and fill your julep cup half way with it. Pour the bourbon and mint mixture over the ice and heap more ice chips on top until it looks like a snow-cone. Sprinkle the ice with remaining ½ tsp of superfine sugar and garnish with a mint sprig.

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  • Blackberry Gin Rickey
    makes 1 10 oz rickey
    Ingredients:

    1 oz fresh lime juice
    ¾ oz agave syrup
    2 ½ oz gin
    club soda
    ½ oz blackberry shrub*
  • Directions:
    In a cocktail mixer shake lime juice, agave and gin together with ice. Strain into a Collins glass over ice and top it off with club soda. Add ½ oz of blackberry shrub (recipe follows).

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  • *Blackberry Shrub
    Ingredients:
    1 cup fresh blackberries
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup red wine vinegar
  • Directions:
    Let berries and sugar sit for at least 6 hours, or overnight, tossing them a few times. Strain and reserve the juice and add the red wine vinegar to it. Stir it until it’s mixed (reserve macerated berries for garnish if you want)

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    Don't forget to follow along for updates:

    If there’s a literary food scene you want to see come to life be sure to leave me a comment and let me know! Or take a peek in the Recipe Index.

    Leave a Comment

    Samantha May 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I am already following the Yummy Books Facebook page, but I am about to follow the blog on Twitter and Instagram too. I’m actually turning 21 on Monday, so winning this will allow me to spend the summer of my 21st year drinking in literary style lol.

    Reply

    Amy R May 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I liked you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter and reblogged your post on tumblr, which I do not know if that counts as any entry but either way I would have reblogged this amazingly delicious article. Thank you!

    Reply

    Ashli Aldrich May 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Hey Cara,
    Love the blog; I’ve been following along pretty much since your launch…
    would love to win the vintage set; I can imagine drake and I enjoying many leisurely picnics sipping tasty cocktails.
    I did the following;
    Like YummyBooks on Facebook for 1 entry
    Follow along on Twitter for 1 entry
    Follow on Instagram for 1 entry

    Reply

    Kelly Biscopink May 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you for the chance – - that set is unbelievable! Can’t wait to make these drinks! Here’s what I’ve done: I was already a follower on Facebook, already a follower on Twitter. I now follow on IG, and I shared the giveaway on my Facebook page. So, I think 4 entries. Again, thanks for the chance – looking forward to your book!

    Reply

    the Breakfast Bachelor May 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    So I’m already following you on instagram, facebook, & twitter and I shared your post on twitter and facebook because let’s be honest, you’re great and that cocktail set is great and I want to win it.

    Love your new site / love every new direction you’re taking / love your work

    <3, Alex

    Reply

    Alex May 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Shared & liked on facebook, reblogged (and already following) on tumblr, and followed on instagram! lovely blog, keep up the good work ;)

    Reply

    Noodle May 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Makes me want to read Gatbsy again. But this time, sitting at a table in Minetta with that barkeep taking good care of me…Another gem, Cara.

    Reply

    Rachael May 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve followed you on facebook, twitter, instagram, AND I pinned the recipe on pinterest. I love your blog!

    Reply

    Taylor Hamilton May 5, 2013 at 12:55 am

    I am now following all three! I went to the KY Derby (hat pictures and a Louisville mailing address to prove it) this year and begrudgingly paid the $10 for a mint julep so I would love to be able to make it at home.

    Reply

    Milica Pupavac May 5, 2013 at 4:39 am

    I liked the Facebook page. :)

    Reply

    Glamorous Glutton May 5, 2013 at 4:58 am

    I didn’t like The Great Gatsby Book either but it seemed so sophisticated when I read it in my final year at school. Like you it has stayed with me. Love the recipes. GG

    Reply

    Paolo May 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I liked all the things (except instagram, not sure why)! And I really hope I win this thing!

    Reply

    Kimberly May 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I like YummyBooks on Facebook.

    Reply

    Kimberly May 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I follow along on Twitter.

    Reply

    Kimberly May 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I follow on Instagram.

    Reply

    Kimberly May 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I follow on Tumblr.

    Reply

    Brie May 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I already like on bookface and the ‘gram. And I just shared the thinger on both thingers. I hate The Great Gatsby and feel weird about horse racing, but I want to drink the drink! Plus, your blog rules.

    Reply

    Kimberly May 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Last comment … love, love, love your site … and your blackberry gin rickey sounds divine!

    Reply

    Kate May 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I was already following Yummy Books on tumblr- but I ‘liked’ you on Facebook, and followed you on Twitter. <3

    Reply

    Nick Berg May 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Hello!

    I’m the ‘cookbook guy’ from Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am so happy that I’ve found your blog. I’ve shared it with all of my coworkers and a few customers, and we’ve made some delicious dishes using your recipes – I can’t wait for your cookbook! What beautiful work you do! I’ll be sure to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ everything, because that traveling bar is a.w.e.s.o.m.e. Thank you for a chance to win it ::crosses fingers::

    Have a good day!

    Nick Berg
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    nick@boswellbooks.com

    Reply

    Paul May 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I (already) liked YummyBooks on Facebook. I (already) followed on Twitter. I followed on Instagram. I followed on Tumblr. I shared information about this contest on my Twitter account. Love the blog, the post and the amazing prize!

    Reply

    Holly K May 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I follow on Facebook because I don’t have any of the others but maybe I’ll have, like, Prue Everdeen luck…

    Reply

    Cara Nicoletti May 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Hahahaha yes! I hope you do have Prue Everdeen luck…or, wait…

    Reply

    Carter Swope May 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Will repost on Facebook! Love your blog.

    Reply

    monica meza May 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Liked Yummy Books’ Facebook as Monica Meza
    Followed on Twitter as @wolvesonfire
    followed on instagram as @wolvesonfire

    Thanks so much, I am thrilled for this giveaway!

    Reply

    Karen G May 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Yes please.

    Reply

    Kate May 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Cara! I usually follow along with your updates on tumblr, but I’m glad I took a chance and checked out your blog as well. I just followed the facebook page and your twitter account. Thank you for the excellent drink recipes!

    Reply

    Maggie Hall May 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    COVET.

    Followed on Tumblr and Instagram!

    Reply

    Ashley Sousa May 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I follow on faccebook, twitter, tumblr, and instagram. I also reblogged on tumblr and posted on twitter!!

    Reply

    Marcy May 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Love this post for many reasons but mostly because of the great pics of the best bartender in Manhattan. Wish I could sit at the bar at Minetta right now enjoying some of Cam’s amazing cocktails, these included!
    Cara, you just better and better.

    Reply

    Sonia May 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Awesome cocktail recipes and awesome article. Also, though I get why people love Great Gatsby, I didn’t really enjoy it as well…There were too many things that overly bothered me in it XD

    Followed you on twitter, facebook, and instagram :)

    Reply

    Ben Westfeldt May 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    nice work cara. keep after it. Follow on twitter, facebook, instagram and shared on facebook and twitter

    Reply

    Kendra Castle May 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I followed on tumblr, facebook, and twitter!

    Reply

    McJilly Math May 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I followed you on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and instagram. :)

    Reply

    Josh May 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Hi, I think it would be awesome to win this, I followed on Twitter and Tumblr and reblogged on tumbr (sharing on tumbr)
    I don’t have pinterest or instagram

    Reply

    Emma May 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Cara! I follow you on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, and Instagram, as well as reading you religiously. I hope you’re having a fantastic weekend! -Emma

    Reply

    eilise mullally May 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    followed you on tumblr, twitter and liked on fb, hopping to give this to my dad for his 50th birthday in august if i win (fingers crossed)

    Reply

    Rachel May 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I just liked you on Facebook. Love this Gastby post!

    Reply

    Rachel May 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    *Gatsby :)

    Reply

    Elizabeth Aquino May 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Well, the only thing I haven’t done is follow you on Twitter, and that’s because I’m not a twitterer. I linked to your blog this morning, anyway, as part of my Sunday post — but I will add a note about the giveaway! And please enter me into the giveaway, too.

    By the way, I never liked The Great Gatsby, either. I did JUST listen to it on tape, though, as I drove around in Los Angeles traffic, and I have to admit that it SOUNDS wonderful — just like the line you highlighted.

    Reply

    Tara May 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Elizabeth sent me here! Great blog concept! And I love the travelling bar set. My grandfather used to have a leather one and it always intrigued me. So, in hopes of winning the one you are offering, I have followed your Facebook page, subscribed to your Instagram, and blogged on my blog about YOUR blog! No Twitter or Tumblr for me, I’m afraid. (well, not really, I already feel up to my eyeballs in social media).

    I look forward to reviewing your blog and seeing new posts. So much fun!

    Reply

    T. Clear May 6, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Liked on facebook!!

    Reply

    Angela Willis May 6, 2013 at 2:11 am

    I liked you on FB!

    AngelaW
    angelagwillis@comcast.net

    Reply

    Angela Willis May 6, 2013 at 2:12 am

    I am following you on Twitter!

    AngelaW
    angelagwillis@comcast.net

    Reply

    Angela Willis May 6, 2013 at 2:14 am

    I shared this contest on FB!

    AngelaW
    angelagwillis@comcast.net

    Reply

    Caitlin May 6, 2013 at 9:04 am

    This is lovely—crossing my fingers!

    I follow on Twitter.
    Also, I pinned this giveaway.

    Reply

    S. Tremaine Nelson May 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Facebooked, Twittered, and Instagrammed! Team Literary Man wants to win this bar set so badly!

    Can’t wait for the book to come out, too!

    Reply

    Catherine May 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Great giveaway! Please let me win!
    Liked on Facebook

    Reply

    Catherine May 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Following in twitter!
    @cmchambe13

    Reply

    Catherine May 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Following on Instagram!
    @cmchambe

    Reply

    Catherine May 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm
    india May 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve entered every way in the world. Cara, you’re the only gal I’ve met who ALSO hates this book! I just re-read it hoping to suddenly adore it (maybe I hadn’t understood the subtleties when I was younger?) but, alas, I finished it and felt, well, pretty much nothing. Again. Though, duh, very excited to see Leo on the big screen again this week. xx

    Reply

    Erbin B May 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Liked on facebook, followed on instagram, and followed on twitter.

    Reply

    Michael May 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Hi. I just wanted to say, thank you for making books more delicious, and giving food a different context. I follow you on Facebook, twitter, and tumbler. Also, I don’t think you need to feel ashamed for not liking The Great Gatsby. Although, personally—I read it for the first time this summer—I was quite taken with it. Except for the ending. The ending sucks, with it’s lame philosophizing bow tie. He should have left it undressed, like his marriage, and cut the last thirty or so pages. And if it makes you feel any better, I can’t stand Steinbeck. Also, I’m looking forward to checking out Minetta Tavern, I’ve never been there and I’m always looking for new haunts. Happy foodie words to you. M.

    Reply

    Marvin Allan Williams May 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I’m new to your blog and found it through Literary Man. I wish I had found it earlier. What a great blog. I have liked you on Facebook and am following on Twitter, and I threw in a Google+ for good measure.
    I look forward to following your future posts and will be looking up some of the older ones as well.

    Reply

    Carl Olson May 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    awesome giveaway, I’ve followed on Twitter
    @cerebronix, thanks

    Reply

    manda May 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I like you on FB and twitter!

    Reply

    Merrily May 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    hey darlin! I did it all! (already follow you on all those things, and shared post on my facebook!) Picnic cocktails 4Ever! xx

    Reply

    jessica w May 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I Like YummyBooks on Facebook

    Reply

    jessica w May 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I Follow along on Twitter

    Reply

    jessica w May 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I Follow on Instagram

    Reply

    Rhanda May 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I “like” on Facebook, follow on Twitter (I’m @GalsGotMoxie) and on Instagram (@GalsGotMoxie). And I shared the contest post on my Facebook timeline.

    Reply

    Katie May 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Hi! I found your blog recently, and absolutely love it. I also love this vintage traveling bar!!
    Here are my entries:
    I already liked you on FB previously. I am now following you on instagram and tubmlr.

    I look forward to more books and recipes!

    Reply

    Casey May 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Cara! I’m already following on twitter and liking on FB. Followed your Tumblr and Instagram, and shared on Twitter (www.twitter.com/caseydaline) and Tumblr (thecitytothesea.tumblr.com). So…6? I think?

    Anyway. Love your blog!

    Reply

    aidan May 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I followed on facebook and twitter

    Reply

    Jen May 8, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Pinned to my board “Booklust.”

    Reply

    Jessica May 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Oooh I love the decanters! Liked you on Facebook! :)

    -Jess

    Reply

    Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) May 9, 2013 at 1:25 am

    I’m glad your site is working again! For a while (earlier this week) I was getting “not found” error messages. Anyway, I’d love to win… I followed you on Twitter!

    Reply

    Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) May 9, 2013 at 1:25 am

    …and I liked Yummy Books on Facebook! :)

    Reply

    Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) May 9, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Shared the giveaway on Pinterest! http://pinterest.com/pin/17803360999676618/

    Reply

    samantha s May 9, 2013 at 2:29 am

    I liked the FB page and followed the Twitter page. :) thanks for the amazing giveaway

    Reply

    Beans May 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Follow you on Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Shared your giveaway on Facebook! Love you!

    Reply

    Joshua Bronk May 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Hi! I would like to notify you that I liked you on Facebook, followed on tumblr, and followed on twitter (I don’t have an instagram, unfortunately). I also shared you on Facebook, tumblr, and twitter. My dorm next year is a converted Victorian mansion, so this would be a prime addition for cocktail parties, classy get-togethers, or just a well-needed gin and tonic.

    Love your blog!

    Reply

    Kristy May 9, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I’m already following on tumblr and facebook but I just followed on twitter too! Sounds like a great recipe and such an exciting give away!

    Reply

    Sarah May 10, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Hi Cara!
    I’ve been reading Yummy Books for the past three years but for whatever reason I’ve never commented! I LOVE this website, I have told all of my friends and family about it and I am SO excited for the book. I follow you on twitter, facebook, instagram, tumblr and pinterest (stalker much?) and I tweeted and facebooked this giveaway (7!)
    You’re the best,
    Sarah

    Reply

    Edwin M McKeon III May 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    This could quite possibly be the best gift ever! Thank you for the chance. I “liked” the facebook page and shared it as well. I followed on twitter for my company and I both. I, also starting following on Instagram.

    Thanks again, and great point with the girls and men observation, I never thought about that quote in the manner.

    Reply

    Don Herbert May 13, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I liked on FaceBook and followed on twitter while drinking a gin rickey.

    Reply

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