I went into the grocery store and found this massive mandarin. Like, HUGE! They're called Sumo Mandarins in America, and Dekopon in Japan. It's about treble the size of a normal mandarin with a little bump on top.
The fruit itself is soft, expensive (like $3.00+), and very yummy. It's a tad sweeter than a normal mandarin and is less acidic than an orange. It takes a tree around four years to produce any yield, and only one farmer grows them in America. I think they're not allowed to be imported into the country.
I decided to use this for my smash. I knew that one sumo mandarin was about the equivalent of three normal mandarin, and adjusted my other ingredients accordingly. After I mixed the drink, it was easy to store over the next few days so I could have a smash as long as I wanted. Overall, it made about four drinks with a slightly heavy pour.
History of the Smash
Later, Harry Johnson includes four different Smash recipes in his book, the Old Style Whiskey Smash, Fancy Whiskey Smash, Fancy Brandy Smash and a Medford Rum Smash. Imbibe magazine gives more details over these recipes but they have more in common with modern smashes than Jerry Thomas' version.
In 1930, the Smash was included in the The Savoy Cocktail Book, under a recipe for a Mint Julep. The Savoy suggested that the Smash was far more flexible of a concoction, calling for any type of herbs, a variety of spirit options, and fruit in any location (smashed in all the way up to garnish). By then, the Smash had really fallen out of favor and wouldn't see a resurgence until the 1990s.
The credit is given to Dale DeGroff, a bartender in New York City and James Beard Award winner. He began to revitalize classic cocktails while he worked in the Rainbow Room. He added lemons to the muddling and used bourbon as a spirit, beginning the tradition that most modern Smash's emulate. DeGroff's books, The Craft of the Cocktail and The Essential Cocktail, are considered excellent sources for modern cocktails.
Whiskey Smash Recipe
Smashes are really similar to Mint Juleps because they are Juleps! Not every Julep is a a Smash, but all Smashes are Juleps. They're subsets. Most of the mint variety called for is spearmint, which is quite common (and is the normal mint available).
A modern smash is flexible on all ingredients amounts. The supplies needed are a shaker, a muddler, a strainer (usually part of a shaker set), and an old-fashioned type glass. Obviously, any glass would at a pinch, but traditionally Smash's are served in an old-fashioned.
Other Things To Know
Sumo Mandarin Smash Recipe
I mushed an entire Sumo Mandarin overall, because I was making more than two drinks in total. Plus I really wanted the flavor of the mandarin to come through and alcohol gives me migraines, so I was doing some fast math in order to make more of a punch-smash for the second round. Obviously, if you want to recreate this at all (and you should because it is amazing!) you might want to reconfigure some of the measurements. It's basically the same recipe as the modern smash, with the mandarin replacing the lemon, and the other amounts doubled. I went heavier with the other ingredients (like, 4 oz. syrup and 4.5 oz. bourbon, but I like sweet and I like bourbon).
5-8 mint leaves
1/2 sumo mandarin, wedged
2-3 fluid ounces simple syrup
3-4 ounces bourbon
Cut sumo mandarin on the horizontal , cut the wedges and place into a bowl for smashing. The peel can be used for garnish, so saving it for later
Smash mandarin to release the juice. This is best to do with a muddler. This is when I realized that I couldn't find my muddler. To be honest, I still can't find my muddler. Which is worrisome as the Derby is coming up and your girl loves a Mint Julep.
I improvised with a meat tenderizer that I had. It's wooden and I wouldn't normally recommend it for muddling anything but citrus. I pulverized the mandarin...which technically isn't what is supposed to happen, but it worked.
I used seven mint leaves (two are hidden under another leaf). That's not a lot for the mandarin flavor, but I could still taste the mint. I bought a whole plant so I'm hoping that this plant lives and doesn't die tragically. I'm not great with plants.
I muddled the mint in the shaker and then added the mandarin to the shaker after that, mixing the two together.
The next two items I added were the simple syrup and the bourbon whiskey. I had made the syrup earlier in the day, and let it cool on the counter. I ended up making about a 1:1 syrup (sugar and water) and ended up with around 650 ml (or 22 fl. oz.) of syrup. The first attempt I followed the recipe as written (using the higher level of measurements), the second time I changed it a little.
For the first mix I did, I used the jigger for measurements (3 pours from the larger end, equaling around 4.5 fluid ounces). The second round, I used two from the larger end and one from the smaller, equaling around 3.75 fluid ounces.
Once it's in the shaker, it will look like this above...not totally appetizing. I added crushed ice to the shaker and then put the lid on and give it a vigorous shake until I couldn't' hold the shaker anymore. This means that the drink is chilled.
I then poured it into some old-fashioned glasses, and added some ice cubes that would slowly melt and add some more liquid. When I did it a second time, I used crushed ice as it melts faster.
For the second round of drinks, I added more of the simple syrup, a tiny bit less alcohol and added water. This turned it more into a sweet punch. I also added grated mandarin peel for some more flavor (really good!) and some lemon juice for acidity. I liked both versions of the drink I made but the second would probably be more of a punch because I weakened it enough to stretch it into four servings instead of two.
Variations on a Smash
Imbibe Magazine has recipes for variations on the Smash that include:
Kitchen Swagger's Blackberry Bourbon Smash
Liquor's Bulldog (Peach) Smash
Difford's Guide has recipes for DeGroff's Whiskey Peach Smash and Jörg Meyer’s Gin Basil Smash
Family Spice's Berry Bourbon Smash for Two
Striped Spatula's Bourbon Peach Smash