Drink: Blackberry mint julep at The Fat Ham

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Blackberry mint julep with Four Roses bourbon, blackberry preserve and mint leaves as served at The Fat Ham, 3131 Walnut St., Philadelphia, March 6, 2014. ( DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer )

It began with the gift of homemade jam, a lovely homage to Kevin Sbraga from a devoted regular at the chef's namesake first restaurant. She was understandably unhappy, though, if general manger Ben Fileccia is correct, that her handmade preserve eventually ended-up as an experiment in Sbraga's cocktails. But I'm here to say that jam was not used in vain. It was a small sacrifice considering it might have changed the course of julep history, at least in University City.

At the Fat Ham, Sbraga's new Southern inspiration, a dose of blackberry jam adds a dark new look to the old Kentucky classic, an intriguing undercurrent that adds a ripe and fruity vanilla bass note to the julep's usual sweetness. It only succeeds, though, because the cocktail's other signature notes sing out proudly - a pour of Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon and bright fresh mint - in perfect tune.

- Craig LaBan
Blackberry mint julep, $10, the Fat Ham, 3131 Walnut St., 215-735-1914.

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