The Essential Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby starts in less than an hour, but the derby, and therefore no watch party, is not complete without the iconic cocktail in attendance.

There are hundreds of different variations on what is essentially a very simple recipe. tailor yours to your own tastes, and by all means, experiment to find the proportions you prefer. Here is an example of what I do.
5 – 6 fresh mint leaves
1/4 ounce concentrated simple syrup
2 ounces high proof bourbon
Shaved Ice
Mint leaf garnish
Place mint leaves in julep cups (silver or pewter are preferred) and add simple syrup over the top. Lightly muddle the simple syrup and mint, but do not crush – just open up the leaves to release the menthol.
Add bourbon, then ice. Use a bar spoon to lightly stir the mixture into ice. Garnish top with mint leaves, which you may also press into the ice to release the aroma.
An option is to also add a splash of water with the simple syrup to help it mix well with the bourbon, but the ice will melt and do that for you at you serve. It all depends on taste.
The bourbon, while important, does not have to be a specific brand. Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but as long as it is a bourbon you can’t really go wrong. Bourbon, by definition, is at least 51% corn based, and barrel aged 3 years in new, American oak barrels – Ryes or wheat based whiskeys, while often very good, do not have the same sort of flavors that make a mint julep so wonderful. I find that the corn mash that makes a bourbon can give it a wonderfully satisfying chewy, molasses sweetness that is excellent on Derby day.
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Derby Week!

So, monday began Derby Week! The week building up to the Kentucky Derby is typically one filled with races, events, garden parties, racing bets, and mint juleps.
The Kentucky Derby is one of my favorite sporting events for just this reason – all the ceremony and tradition that goes along with the race – called the most exciting two minutes in all of sports.
I have placed bets on the Derby in the past, and this year I am going to pick Omaha Beach to “place.” A place bet puts money on your horse to finish in the top three (whereas a “show” is the top two, and a “win” is first) I like the place bets, because even if the payouts are not so great, they are more forgiving, and picking a horse with a good record, trainer, and jockey can give you a good chance of walking away with some money – all of which make watching the derby just that much more exciting.
I will put up my favorite mint julep recipes in my next post
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Armorial Bookplates

bookplate

My fondness for heraldry and history is no secret, nor is my affinity for art and family tradition. I became familiar with the tradition of bookplates not all that long ago, and especially armorial bookplates. Combining my interests in literature, history, heraldry, and art, I became an immediate fan. Also known as Ex Libris (Latin for “From the library of…”) Most of the available examples of armorial bookplates are from the Victorian era – coinciding with the resurgence in interest in family histories and heraldry, and running parallel with the British interests in Scottish clans, tartans, and families. Because of this popular resurgence, while an existing bookplate from this era would be undoubtedly from the mid 19th century, it may be tricky to determine whether or not the person it was made for was truly a descendant of the original armiger and allowed to bear those arms themselves. Some others, however, are truly unique and combine differenced or quartered arms with a mother’s family or a grandparent, which even if not officially on the roll of arms, makes for a very interesting and personal armorial insignia.

Harry Lee

Others, coming from members of the peerage, or well known famous persons, are harder to find, but easier to verify as being true heraldic achievements. There are also some beautiful armorials coming from the Georgian and Jacobean eras, as well as from the early 1900’s, before the tradition fell out of practice.

Armorial bookplates are quite a unique, interesting, and economical way to start a historical or artistic collection, and I myself have mad a few forays into the world of heraldic plates to appreciate the history, artwork, and tradition behind it, and to see where it might lead.

More info can be found here: Bookplates on Wikipedia

And here: at the Bookplate Society

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Rabble Wines Red Wine Blend

Rabble is a wine that I am not entirely familiar with. I will admit that the marketing caught my eye, utilizing augmented reality via their smartphone app to make their label come alive. It is a cool concept, but marketing aside, it is still a good wine.
IMG_20190403_100313_898.jpg
Their “Red Wine” is, of course, a blend, and the fact that it is predominantly merlot is apparent from the first hint of aroma. Heavy on the dark fruits, and with a nose of alcohol, it certainly smells like a merlot, and at first sip it tastes like one too – full, rich, heavy, and deep, but without the dryness or tart finish that I have come to expect from some of the more tannin heavy wines. It softens as it progresses, and has a bit of a tart cherry taste at the end.
Overall a good red, with a decent price that is more than fair for what you get… and remember to download the app to help the label come alive.
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Review – Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

The Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve has a deep amber gold color that reflects well on its title. It has a strong peaty aroma with notes of grain. sweet on the nose with a heavy, intense feel to it. It’s time in the wood is apparent, and noticable.

The first sips are sweet and strong on the outset, settling down as it flows. There are heavy flavors of peat that cut through the sweetness with a hint of vanilla. The finish is warm and soft, inviting another sip.

A splash of water softens the whisky significantly. There is more of a spice to the aroma, with hints of straw. The vanilla flavor is more apparent, smoothing out to a round caramel. This is an excellent scotch that can be enjoyed both neat, and with water.

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New Year, New Me?

Nah, I don’t think that I will be that cliché. Instead, I will keep trying to be the same old gentleman adventurer that I ever was, but I do acknowledge the continuous need for self improvement. If you’re not going somewhere with your life or your development, then you’re simply standing still.

Make sure to check out my twitter and Instagram accounts:

@gntlemanscholar – Instagram

@gntlemnScholar – Twitter

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Getting started in Investing

One of the activities that I enjoy quite a bit, in addition to bourbon, cigars, and wine, is investing. I have been interested in this topic for quite a while. My MBA had a finance concentration and capital management is a big part of what I do on a day to day basis. This past year has been extremely profitable in the stock market, and there are a lot of people asking about how they can get started investing. My primary advice would be to start with a 401(k) or similar program through your employer, and/or open an IRA (both the traditional and roth IRA’s have advantages and disadvantages depending on your tax situation) using these retirement strategies will save you on taxes immediately, no matter where you invest, or the market’s performance, and will serve you well later in life. All that being said, though, for people who want to get started in simply investing into their desired stock.

Well, starting off small, there are some brokerages that are offering free investment money in order to begin investing.

Stockpile is one brokerage that is interesting because it allows you to purchase partial or fractional shares of a stock (Amazon, for example, is over $1000 a share, but with stockpile you can buy $10 worth of Amazon) They also only have a $.99 commission fee, which is way less than most brokerages. They also have a lot of trading tools and teaching opportunities (their goal is to get more people to invest) The main reason that I mention them in this context, though, is because they have an offer out on Groupon to get $20 worth of stock for $10. Choose the stock or ETF you want to invest in, and even if you sell the next day, you’re making a 100% ROI. Here is a link: Groupon StockPile

I opened an account to get this deal and bought into a S&P 500 ETF. I may sell soon, or I may just hold it, since I am essentially making capital gains on leveraged money.

Another option is Robinhood – this is a mobile app based brokerage that offers free commissions (yes, free… which is pretty cool) but they also offer a free share of stock for people opening new accounts through a referral. I have an account with them as well. There is no minimum investment (most brokerages are around $500) and once again, commission free trades. My referral link is: Robinhood Free Stock Referral – the stock that you receive is random, and could be anything from $2.50 to $200 in value, but it is a free share of a company.

I wish I had opened my account through someone else’s referral, actually, because when I did, I didn’t have anything to show for it.

Both of these options are for folks that are just starting out and they have training and learning applications to help you get started. It isn’t much, but holding appreciating assets like this can be beneficial and help you start to understand investing more. You could sell at any point and then put those additional funds to use elsewhere, or, a better option in my opinion, invest them into dividend funds or real estate holding companies that pay you monthly or quarterly income to expand your gentlemanly and scholarly interests.

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Afghanistan Campaign Medal Watch Band

As many of you who know me might already be aware, I have taken steps to produce the next piece in my line of Campaign Medal Watch Bands designed for Veteran Professionals.

ACM watch strap image

I am extremely proud of this Afghanistan Campaign Medal watch band, as I am sourcing the materials through another veteran owned business, and I was able to get my Gentleman Ranker logo engraved on the buckle of the band. I am pleased with the result and hope that y’all like it too!

Afghanistan Campaign Medal Watch Band

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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

008I would like to congratulate all of the graduating cadets from Britain’s Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. As these newly commissioned lieutenants step into their roles and take command of formations in the British Army they are continuing a proud tradition.

I would especially like to congratulate the three “Royal Cadets” who graduated: Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg, and Prince Wenzel of Liechtenstein. Far too often in this day and age people of wealthy or historical families simply choose to reject the idea of military service as somehow beneath them or simply not of any interest, and this is very sad. What better way to learn to lead your nation than by serving and leading in it’s military? I have heard it said that nobility is defined by one’s responsibilities, not by one’s privileges, and I could not agree more. Congratulations once again to these graduating Royal Cadets, because far too often those of the nobility forget what it truly means to be noble.

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Publishing on the go…

Like so many people these days, I find myself on the go far more often than I would probably like to be, and as such, my phone is never far from my hand. 

In light of these facts, I am giving some thought to trying to publish more from my phone rather than my computer. I promise the quality of my work will bot drop, and that publishing from my phone will not turn my articles and opinions into Twitter posts. 

I will play around with posting photos as well. Thanks, and hopefully this will help me produce more and varied content.

Gentleman Scholar

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