Today is Paul Bunyan Day. I know, it feels like we just celebrated last year's Paul Bunyan Day. It sure creeps up on you. I hope you finished all your Paul Bunyan Day shopping on time this year!
Here's what I knew about Paul Bunyan before I wrote this post:
|Photo by Abby Savage on Unsplash|
2. He was a lumberjack...maybe?
3. He had a blue ox named Babe.
4. His feet created the Great Lakes
5. He was a fictional folk hero.
Turns out, I got the blue ox part right. Here's the legend of Bunyan according to History.com:
"As the legend goes, it took five huge storks to deliver the infant (already gigantic) Paul Bunyan to his parents in Bangor, Maine. When he grew older, one drag of the mighty lumberjack’s massive ax created the Grand Canyon, while the giant footprints of his trusty companion, Babe the Blue Ox, filled with water and became Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes."
So it was Babe who created the 10,000 lakes. Cute!
Also, Bangor, Maine? I thought he was from the North Star State (Minnesota's nickname- bonus learning!). Ok, but he wasn't a real guy, right? Wrong. Sort of. The legend of Paul Bunyan is based on a real person; actually two real people.
The first guy is an actual French-Canadian lumberjack named Fabian Fournier. Fournier joined a logging crew in Michigan in the 1870s and his fellow loggers were astounded because he was- get this- 6 feet tall! Apparently, people barely reached 5 feet at the time, so 6 feet was bonafide giant criteria. Oh, also he had two rows of teeth which he would use to "bite off hunks of wooden rails." But, it was the 6 foot thing that had his coworkers astounded??? Not the two fucking rows of teeth? Not the biting hunks of wooden rail? Ok. Cool.
|Photo by Vitor Ávila on Unsplash|
He also liked to get drunk and brawl, nightly.
Six feet, two rows of teeth, likes to drink and fight? He sounds like almost every guy I dated in my 20s. He probably didn't have a car or his own place either.
So, how do we get from this real gem of a dude to Paul Bunyan? Well, that's where a fellow named Bon Jean comes in. He was also a French-Canadian lumberjack who participated in the Papineau Rebellion, which was an uprising against the British regime at the time. Historians believe that the name Bon Jean evolved into the surname Bunyan.
But why did I think he was associated with Minnesota? Here's why: in 1914, the Minnesota Red River Lumber Company used Bunyan as their mascot and his link to Minnesota stuck. There's also a "life-sized" statue of him and Babe in Bemidji, MN.
There you go.
"But wait, you promised us a cocktail!" you are screaming at your computer right now. Wow, calm down; it's barely noon, you heathens.
I found a Paul Bunyan cocktail, but it was pretty much a Manhattan and boring as hell. So I opted for the Minnesota state signature cocktail instead: The Bootleg.
Legend has it that this cocktail came about during prohibition when rich people would go hang out at Lake Minnetonka to avoid the watchful eye of the fuzz and drink this fizzy delight. Legend also has it that one of those rich people was F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The odd thing about this cocktail is that everyone seems to have their own secret version of it and are reluctant to give up the recipe. What I could gather, though is it involves Gin, Vodka or Bourbon, mint, lemonade, limeade, simple syrup and a splash of club soda. I modified recipe to fit my tastes (it's my blog, dammit) and to fit what I had on hand.
Here's the recipe I created:
2.5 oz of Colorado Fog Gin (Jersey style pour!)
3 oz Trader Joe's Sparkling Limeade
3 oz Santa Cruz Lemonade
2 bunches of mint leaves
.5 oz key lime simple syrup (you can make it with lime juice, sugar, and water...or you can just buy it at the grocery store like I did, cuz lazy)
Lemon wedge and mint sprig to garnish.
Most recipes will have you blend the limeade, lemonade, and mint (except for the garnish) in a blender, but I find that you still get way too many mint chunks floating in your drink, so I chose to skip the blender and just muddled the mint leaves, then stirred all the liquids together instead. I did this mainly because I hate using a blender. It scares the cats.
Basically, this drink is a cross between a Gin Rickey and a Mojito...with a bit of Margarita thrown in for good measure. It is delicious, as I am indicating here:
Oh, and of course, here's the embarrassing video (and thumbnail) to go along with it:
Oh, and here's a Minnesota playlist, featuring artists from Minnesota...the good, the bad and the terrible. It's pretty heavy on Prince, because, duh.