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.