Any bar that makes good use of three antiquated refrigerators is bound to whip up an impressive drink, at least that was our rational as we grabbed a stool at Juniper: A Southern Table and Bar. We were not disappointed. The recently opened Central West End establishment just added extra hours (now opening at 4:30 p.m. to bring in the happy hour crowd) and a new late-night menu, so the time was right to try a cocktail. Hoping to match the rustic, southern atmosphere, we chose the "Mississippi Punch."
The bar at Juniper is the focal point of the long, narrow space, where you'll find the three aforementioned antique refrigerators that, combined with high ceilings and brick walls covered in painted old-timey advertisements. It's got a bucolic, country-store aesthetic that gives the whole room a homey feel. It's a comfortable place to sip a drink.
The chalkboard above the bar is riddled with menu specials, definitions of southern cuisine and offers up gems like "Tasty Vittles." The cocktail list, like the food, is Low Country influenced, so the "Mississippi Punch" seems to embody the general theme nicely. Bartender Jason Brumley explains that the basic recipe comes from an old cocktail book (Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide), but with a modern spin. The key ingredient is the Rhum Agricole, a "funky" Puerto Rican rum that is made from pure sugarcane. Add to that some rye and cognac, plus lemon, simple sugar and bitters and you've got a zesty drink that's "not too sweet, with a decent amount of spice." The addition of lemon juice and bitters kicks in a little jab of sour that slides in under the dominant rum and sugar. It's served on several giant ice cubes, but the rye and cognac brings some heat and makes for a fine cold weather cocktail.
As for the vittles, the basket of hush puppies or a plate of deviled eggs goes well with just about any drink you can think of.
After the jump, how to make the "Mississippi Punch" at home.