Drink: Blackberry mint julep at The Fat Ham

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.