Thursday, May 8, 2008

Huit Belles, Repos Dans Paix

T. Mixeur has always had an inexplicable affinity for horses. I've not spent much time with horses, and have ridden one only once when so young that a professional walked the horse around the corral, or whatever they call it.

And yet, in spite of being normally averse to such unseemly things as feel-good Hollywood films attempting to exploit the exploits of some underdog while casting vague aspersions of how this somehow represents the American story, one sunny evening in 2003 T.Mixeur could be heard in front of his television crying out, "Go Seabiscuit Go!!"

With fists clenched and arms pumping, no less.

While reading Jeff Morgenthaler's blog on the Mint Julep, I began to think of the fact that we would be visiting the Bainbridge home of Mom Mixeur on derby day, and Mom Mixeur had developed a taste for the Mint Julep in the previous years while enjoying traditional derby day drinks and bites as the guest of a couple of Kentucky ex-pats living nearby. They had been serving Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps and many traditional derby foods, all of which seemed to be equal parts cream, butter, cheese, and lard.

This year, however, the matriarch of the event had reached a point in her life trajectory wherein hosting such high concept events was not realistic, leaving an opening.

So Mom Mixeur bought the mint, T.Mixeur brought the rest to her, including a recently purchased bottle of Buffalo Trace (since departed). We made the Juleps according to Monsieur Morgenthaler's instructions, and they were divine.

We are not horse racing people. True, there are few sights in the world as pure, inspiring, and true as a horse in full stride. But the purity, inspiration, and truth are somewhat diminished by the accompanying sight of a dwarf on the horse's back, relentlessly whipping the hell out of it.

Yet upon seeing the name of a horse called Eight Belles, I immediately developed a rooting interest. I did not know at the time that the name was taken from a home in Port Clyde Maine owned by Andrew Wyeth, nor did I know that Eight Belles was a girl.

A few moments later, I was informed she was a girl, the only girl in the race, and one of only a few girl horsies to ever run in the derby. Now I was involved.

Most of you know the horrific end. Eight Belles ran the race of her life, bested only by the freak mutant cyborg horse Big Brown, finishing more than 2 lengths ahead of the third place finisher. But just as she was slowing down after the conclusion of the race, both her front ankles snapped at the same time, and she was put to sleep by lethal injection within minutes.

Another Julep anyone?

(T.Mixeur may never recover from this.)

But as part of the healing process, Eight Belles will be honored in the only way we at Le Mixeur know how: by making a drink named after her (Bien sûr!).

We regret to inform the reader that there is an entirely other long-winded build up to this simple drink, which we will go into in great detail right now!

An integral yet often overlooked aspect of Le Mixeur is the desire to make drinking healthier. It was this desire that compelled us to make and Mix schisandra infused vodka and schisandra liqueur for our Mixers. It was this desire that caused us to disseminate the medicinal values of the herbs in Benedictine and other liqueurs. It is this desire that leads us to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Being Seattlites, we are children of the Zig Zag, and we see this desire as merely an extension of the golden rule of hospitality espoused by Ben, Kacy, and Murray. As a token of our hospitality, allow us to make you a fine cocktail that, in all likelihood, will not cause your death.

If there is one thing we have learned from preparing drinks for Mixers at our Mixeurs, about 80% of whom are female (95% of whom are Naturopathic Physician candidates), it is that women do not like the refined sugar.

And their dislike comes only in response to the fact that refined sugar detests them with a fury yet unmatched. Aside from reported issues with hormonal imbalance, accompanying mood swings, upset stomach, and anxiety, it is a well established fact that refined sugar will often fill a woman's system with yeast faster than Eight Belles rounded the track at Churchill Downs.

Fellas, you really haven't lived until your intestinal tract, mouth, throat, vagina, and anus have been overwhelmed with yeast. Don't try to tell me you have. You haven't!

When we began these Mixeurs, we sat down and made a list of things we did and did not want to accomplish (known as La Constitution de Le Mixeur). It took a while, but eventually the list of things we did NOT want came to include this, and I quote:

"We do not want to serve our guests drinks that cause their intestinal tract, mouth, throat, vagina, and anus to be overwhelmed with yeast."

If only our nation's forefathers had had the wisdom to be so specific in their own constitution. And perhaps they would have, had they invited a few foremothers to the party.

And so pardon us while we bring this all full circle:

The Eight Belles

12 mint leaves
12 stevia leaves
splash of water
1/4 oz agave nectar
2 oz bourbon
crushed ice

muddle the mint, water, and agave together
add the stevia leaves and bourbon
add ice, stir, add ice, stir...
garnish with a mint sprig.

Yes, that's right, it's a gal-friendly Mint Julep.

And with this drink comes a toast of remembrance:

two ounces of Bourbon...
one for each length she bested Denis of Cork,
one for each ankle that gave way

the greenery of Stevia leaves...
a consolatory laurel in lieu of the one Big Brown wore
as she was carted away

Eight Belles,
it was the least we could do to remember you
this sorrowful Derby day.

The agave will get it sweet enough. The Stevia leaves (you will need to buy a Stevia plant, they sell at most garden shops and centers for about $3), add quantity and variety to your drink's greenery. Also, when the impulse strikes you, you can pluck a leaf from the drink and eat it up for a little burst of extra sweetness. And a little Stevia leaf sandwich on mint leaves is a tasty combination.

And lest anyone misunderstand what refined sugar is, the list includes white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, maple sugar, molasses, date sugar, turbinado, raw sugar, demerrara, amasake, rice syrup, and sorghum.

And at long last this post comes to an end. In one last nod to Eight Belles, we leave you with a stunning painting by Andrew Wyeth, in which a happy, yeast-free young woman anxiously awaits the return home from over the horizon of her filly...

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