Late last year we found ourselves in Berlin’s Stagger Lee bar with our pal Don Sling. We’d wormed our way in at closing time to sample the bar’s vaunted Stagger Lee Julep, but bartender Konstantin “CoCo” Prochorowski (pictured above) would have none of it. At that late hour, he wasn’t about to serve us a julep. He was about to serve us three.
The Stagger Lee Julep turned out to be a mix of whiskey, cherry jam, and mint, garnished with a brandied cherry cured in cinnamon, clove, and anise. Nice, but CoCo hit us where we live with his next round: a Rum Julep, made with Pusser’s Navy Rum, apricot jam, and Bitter Truth apricot brandy, served with pieces of dark chocolate. Nibbling on the chocolate between sips, we profited handsomely from the symbiotic relationship between rum and cacao, which ranks right up there with the mutualism of clownfish and sea anemone, bee and blossom, and barfly and yeast.
But CoCo — who, we learned, had come to Germany from Kiev at age four, speaks many languages, and would soon migrate to London — was saving the best for last. This was a Tequila Julep (Gran Centenario tequila, Agavero agave liqueur, and agave juice) with the most unexpected, and unparalleled, garnish we’ve ever seen: a tray laden with menthol snuff, a plug of chewing tobacco, and a cigarillo. These three items not only enhanced and amplified the flavor of the drink, but had the added benefit of making us feel like we were in a Sergio Leone western.
Not even Leone’s homicidal saddle tramps could survive three stiff juleps in quick succession, however, so we mosied back out into the night. Only it wasn’t night anymore. Dawn had broken, and someone had stolen our horse.