Forget Groundhog Day. For us, the seasons are marked by the temperature of our coffee.
So as we approach iced-coffee weather, we're taking caffeine cues from a classic Southern tradition, reimagined by enterprising baristas.
Meet the Coffee Julep, a concoction that came into being independently at both Black Tap Coffee in Charleston (where it's called the Black Julep), and Houndstooth Coffee in Austin. As the name would suggest, it shares roots with the Mint Julep, a liquid institution below the Mason-Dixon, composed of bourbon, sugar, mint and ice.
But the Coffee Julep is alcohol-free: At Black Tap, a long shot of espresso is shaken in a cocktail shaker with muddled mint and honey, then strained over crushed ice and garnished with mint. Owner Ross Jett says the drink is a nod to Charleston's bartending talent: "We have so many cocktail professionals stopping in, and hearing about what they're working on inspires us."
In Houndstooth's version, the honey is swapped out for vanilla and sparkling water. Almost slushy-like, the drink is perfect for warm weather, with the fresh mint acting as a wall of refreshment.
We never thought we'd go for a Julep without booze. We were wrong.