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8 Bars Mixing Up Mold-Breaking Mint Juleps

The mint julep may be most associated with the Kentucky Derby, but that doesn't mean you can't order one any other day of the year. The refreshing Southern cocktail, best enjoyed on a lazy summer day, isn’t anything fancy—it’s basically just crushed ice, a hefty pour of bourbon, muddled mint, and simple syrup—which makes it ripe for creative interpretations. And bars across the country are getting into the spirit with innovative twists on the traditional. In honor of this month's National Mint Julep Day, celebrated May 30, here are eight bars, both below and above the Mason Dixon line, mixing up mint juleps worth traveling for.

1. DOC CROW’S SOUTHERN SMOKEHOUSE & RAW BAR // LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

If you’re based in bourbon-centric Louisville, and your downtown location is colloquially known as “Whiskey Row,” then you’re pretty much obligated to serve an out-of-this-world julep. Doc Crow’s, with its signature “Near Eastern Julep,” delivers and then some. Bartenders here start with plenty of crushed ice and Old Grand-Dad bottled-in-bond bourbon, add in ginger-infused simple syrup and Becherovka, an herbal bitter with a spicy-bittersweet twist, and substitute basil for the usual mint. Sip your poison at the bar, or grab a table with friends and pair it with a Southern specialty like shrimp and cheddar grits, Texas-style brisket, or fried pork chops.

2. PARLIAMENT // DALLAS

Creative cocktails are always on the menu at Parliament, but this beloved Dallas haunt loves to elevate their menu for special occasions. To celebrate the Derby this year, they rolled out five special Kentucky-inspired cocktails, including the Southern Belle, a revivifying riff on the traditional julep. Rhubarb sugar and strawberry-infused Maker's Mark bourbon combine with lots of mint for an extra-refreshing flavor—perfect for keeping cool in the Texas heat. (And on those rare occasions when the sun isn't shining, not to worry —Parliament offers happy hour deals not only from 5 to 8 p.m. daily, but any time it's raining outside!)

3. JULEP // HOUSTON, TEXAS

Meanwhile, down in Houston, bar proprietor Alba Huerta—the recipient of many awards and accolades for her inventive drinks—is such a fan of the classic cocktail that she named her establishment simply Julep. Designed to spotlight the best of Southern comfort food, you'll find plenty of fried oysters, pulled pork, and yes, mint juleps. Since it opened in 2014, Julep has spotlighted many versions of its namesake drink—like its headline-grabbing Sparkling Julep, made with Gamay bubbly, cognac, mint, and turbinado syrup—although its classic julep, with its blend of Four Roses and JW Dant bonded-in-bottle bourbons, plus turbinado to add a gentle hint of molasses-style sweetness, never goes out of style.

4. THE LEADBELLY // NEW YORK CITY

This heralded Lower East Side joint serves up oysters from both coasts, along with a selection of well-curated small plates, all the better to enjoy with a thirst-quenching julep. Leadbelly bartender Colin Asare-Appiah told Town & Country magazine he was inspired to give the bourbon-and-mint sipper a 21st-century makeover after reading up on the centuries-old drink. "Research showed me that there were gin, genever, and cognac varieties," he said. "Vodka has been the modern-day hero of the cocktail bar scene, and so I decided to use a well-crafted vodka and add fresh spearmint with cucumber." Can’t make it to NYC anytime soon? The recipe is available online so you can still try the invigorating vodka-cucumber concoction at home.

5. KINGFISH // NEW ORLEANS

Beloved fourth-generation bartender Chris McMillian, arguably the nation’s foremost julep maker, may no longer helm the bar at this French Quarter institution, but his legendary juleps live on in the more-than-ample hands of current lead bartender Justin Gerhmann. Bourbon and peaches are natural allies—peach brandy was often used as the base for juleps mixed in the 1800s—and the Kingfish version celebrates that delectable pairing by combining peach syrup with Maker’s Mark bourbon and mint.

6. BLUDSO’S BAR & QUE // LOS ANGELES

Located just a few blocks south of Santa Monica Boulevard, Bludso's Bar & Que caters to Angelenos with a taste for big Texas BBQ flavor. Recently earning the top spot in LA.Eater’s list of essential barbecue spots in the area, the family-owned restaurant is beloved for its authentic, slow-smoked ribs, brisket, chicken, and more. Naturally you'll need something to wash all that down with, and while Bludso's boasts plenty of craft beers and local wines, don't skip their juleps, which are pre-kegged and—quite delightfully—served on draft. The boozy treat is made with Evan Williams bourbon (a Louisville favorite) and, despite the unusual on-tap twist, is still served traditionally in a silver cup with heaps of crushed ice.

7. TEDDY & THE BULLY BAR // WASHINGTON, D.C.

This Dupont Circle tribute to our gallant 26th president claims to serve all that Roosevelt held dear, gastronomically speaking (think steaks, fried chicken, house-made cornbread, and, of course, wild-game dishes starring bison, boar, and venison). Their cocktail list, though, is where Teddy & the Bully Bar really shines, serving classic drinks inspired by “the golden era of American cocktails,” or roughly the period between the early 1800s right up to Prohibition. The chicly appointed interior, with its faux taxidermy, gas-powered light fixtures, and restored antique stove, is the perfect setting to sip on Teddy’s berry-licious julep, which combines Woodford mint-infused bourbon, fresh mint, and strawberry shrub.

8. FIG & OLIVE // CHICAGO

As its name suggests, Fig & Olive is best known for their Mediterranean cuisine and love of all things olive—they swap out butter for olive oil in nearly all their recipes—but their creativity doesn't end with food. Originally based in New York but now with eight locations across the country, this upscale dining experience features a plethora of classic cocktails with a decidedly modern twist. Their Chicago location features a Fig & Walnut Julep, which begins with Four Roses bourbon but then turns the usual julep recipe on its head. Elderflower liqueur, muddled black figs, citrus, and shaved-walnut garnish transform this front-porch-sipping Southern staple into a Mediterranean medley.

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Food
In 1938, The New York Times Thought Cheeseburgers Were a Weird New Fad
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People love to make fun of The New York Times's trend section: Their umpteen pieces on the Millennial craze have been called "hate-reads," and their dissection of cultural norms such as oversharing, defriending people in real life, and chopped salad at lunch as "trends" can be hilarious and infuriatingly obvious.

But while their pieces aren't always exactly timely, they will certainly make for interesting reads in a few decades—just like this throwback piece on a California fad called "cheeseburgers" from 1938.

When "cheeseburger" was first mentioned in the October 1938 article, it was in a long list about the "whimsy" of California eateries. Then, nine years later in May 1947, the Times revisited the fad, writing, "At first, the combination of beef with cheese and tomatoes, which sometimes are used, may seem bizarre." Fortunately, their intrepid reporter could see the bigger picture. "If you reflect a bit, you’ll understand the combination is sound gastronomically."

Now, 70 years later, you can not only ask for gourmet cheeses like brie, goat, or gorgonzola on your burger—or spend upwards of $300 on one—there are multiple burger chains where you can order stacks on stacks on stacks of cheeseburger patties. That weird little West Coast fad has become a multibillion dollar industry, and cheeseburgers are practically our national food (arguably in hot contention with apple pie). Congratulations, America! We did it!

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science
2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Research on How Crocodiles Affect Gambling and Other Odd Studies
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The Ig Nobel Prizes are back, and this year's winning selection of odd scientific research topics is as weird as ever. As The Guardian reports, the 27th annual awards of highly improbable studies "that first make people laugh, then make them think" were handed out on September 14 at a theater at Harvard University. The awards, sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research, honor research you never would have thought someone would take the time (or the funding) to study, much less would be published.

The 2017 highlights include a study on whether cats can be both a liquid and a solid at the same time and one on whether the presence of a live crocodile can impact the behavior of gamblers. Below, we present the winners from each of the 10 categories, each weirder and more delightful than the last.

PHYSICS

"For using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

Winner: Marc-Antoine Fardin

Study: "On the Rheology of Cats," published in Rheology Bulletin [PDF]

ECONOMICS

"For their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble."

Winners: Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer

Study: "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal," published in the Journal of Gambling Studies

ANATOMY

"For his medical research study 'Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?'"

Winner: James A. Heathcote

Study: "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" published in the BMJ

BIOLOGY

"For their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect."

Winners: Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard (who delivered their acceptance speech via video from inside a cave)

Study: "Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect," published in Current Biology

FLUID DYNAMICS

"For studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee."

Winner: Jiwon Han

Study: "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," published in Achievements in the Life Sciences

NUTRITION

"For the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat."

Winners: Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres

Study: "What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata," published in Acta Chiropterologica

MEDICINE

"For using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese."

Winners: Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly, and Tao Jiang

Study: "The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study," published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

COGNITION

"For demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually."

Winners: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti

Study: "Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins," published in PLOS One

OBSTETRICS

"For showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly."

Winners: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte

Study: "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission,” published in Ultrasound

PEACE PRIZE

"For demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring."

Winners: Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli

Study: "Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial," published by the BMJ

Congratulations, all.

[h/t The Guardian]

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