November 17, 2012 by Bourbon Empire
On a recent walk through New Orleans I stumbled across a faded advertisement for Emerson’s Ginger-Mint Julep alongside Decatur Street. I’d never heard of it, but a little online research of The Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina uncovered quite a surprising story, and sparked my idea for a ginger-mint julep contest.
The drink appears to be long forgotten, but was apparently a creation of Isaac E. Emerson, a wealthy chemist and businessman from the late 19th and early 20th centuries who patented Bromo-Seltzer, a popular headache remedy.
Emerson also organized the Emerson Drug Company and was involved with a variety of other chemical and drug businesses. He also apparently found a way to combine his love of yachting and patriotism by creating the Maryland Naval Reserve in 1894. He later led his own naval force during the Spanish-American War, conjuring up images of an aquatic version of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
After the war, the yachting continued, and Emerson and his wife kept two yachts they used to host around-the-world parties with people like the Vanderbilts, no doubt relying on Bromo-Seltzer to cure their epic hangovers. Emerson’s daughter Margaret even ended up marrying Alfred Vanderbilt, whose own yachting days came to an end on the Lusitania in 1915.
Anyway, I figured some kind of revival of the drink is in order. A quick Web search, however, revealed some pretty boring recipes that were little more than classic mint juleps drowned in ginger ale. I wondered if a version using muddled ginger would be better…
…so, send in your ideas for a ginger-mint julep. The winner will have my yacht named for them after I patent the recipe and earn a fortune from the proceeds.