Cocktails, Recipes

Mint Julep

April 2, 2015

COCKTAIL: Mint Julep

This past Christmas, my family played a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit. By far, my best category is Entertainment. Even better still is the Pop Culture Edition. I am practically flawless in the pursuit of pop culture trivia. But the one (or biggest) stumbling block I always have in ANY Trivial Pursuit tournament is the Sports category. It’s my Achilles heel. Except that every now and then I luck out with a question about some infamous sports celebrity like OJ Simpson. And sometimes, when you go for a piece of the pie, you get a question that you don’t hesitate on. You don’t doubt yourself. You just know. And amazingly, during this holiday event, it was a sports question. But like I said before, I lucked out with a question that had nothing to actually do with sports. The question? What is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby? Without skipping a beat, without breaking a sweat, without blinking, without spilling my drink, I jumped out of my seat and exclaimed at the top of my lungs “The Mint Julep!” And then I got my wedge. But why so much love for the Mint Julep?

A refreshing Mint Julep

Picture it. Connecticut, in the 1980s, on a Saturday night. Much like Ross Gellar, I too, stayed home to watch The Golden Girls.” And then when it found another life on Lifetime, I was so pleased. But now, without cable, I’m at a loss. And I ache for the girls. Whatever, I’ll make myself a Mint Julep and get over it. Back to the point. Blanche Devereaux. The southern belle from Georgia. I remember in one episode, Blanche talked about sitting out on the veranda, regaling about the old South and sipping Mint Juleps. Doesn’t that sound nice? Doesn’t it sound relaxing? Doesn’t it sound all…southern? Ms. Devereaux first opened my eyes to these wonderful drinks. And such a simple cocktail it is. Mint, bourbon, syrup & ice. That’s it. That’s all you need to make an exhilarating (and powerful) cocktail.

Mint Julep

You would think that the three years I spent in Savannah, Georgia I would’ve tried a Mint Julep at least once. To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t. But it was also my college years and if I’m honest, there were a few nights where I drank a lot (A LOT) and would just start drinking everyone else’s drinks once mine were depleted. Mostly we drank Woo-Woo‘s out on our porch. But that’s probably going to be another post for another time. Right now, we are going to get drunk on spearmint and bourbon. Because it’s the southern thing to do. And also the American thing, too.

Crushed Ice for a Mint Julep

I do remember, nearly two years ago, on my first trip to New Orleans, Lance & I stopped at Oak Alley Plantation. It’s a beautifully stunning location. It was also hot and humid. And right outside the plantation house, you could get yourself a Mint Julep. And in the heat of the Louisiana Sun, that was a mighty delicious concoction. I would’ve been happy to sit out on that veranda all day sipping Mint Juleps.

Muddling a Mint Julep

So every now and then, I’ll see some ridiculously bright green mint in the store and think about how wonderful a Mint Julep would be. So last year, for my parent’s 40th anniversary, when we were home, we made Mint Juleps for everyone. So of course, for my Mom’s birthday this year, we decided that Mint Juleps would be a great drink to have (and at this point are probably going to be a tradition going forward.)

The Mint Julep - the drink verandas were made for

And guess what? The Kentucky Derby is coming up. So now you have time to go out and perfect the recipe making process so you can wear some big ass hat and get trashed to watch horses run for 2 minutes whilst drinking their official cocktail. Or just make one because it tastes amazing. And you want a way to freshen your breath and get a little tipsy at the same time.

So if you’ve read this post intoxicated, then I’m not going to worry about you. However, if you’ve been reading this sober, then you probably remember hearing me say it’s just a few ingredients. And that’s true. But, of course, why just stop there at the very basics of it when you can, as the Barefoot Contessa would say “Turn up the volume!” So this recipe reflects that.

Mint Julep

Traditionally, a Mint Julep is made with crushed ice and it’s served in a Julep cup. (I was doing some reading on this, and you’re supposed to hold it by the base, this way your hand doesn’t warm up your drink and since it’s silver, it keeps your drink really cold.) You can crush ice in a blender or in a freezer bag covered in towels with a rolling pin or you can just use “ginormous” cubes like normal people. And in my opinion, the Julep cups I’ve come across are too expensive and too small. In the end, it really just matters how it tastes. I’ve always found it hard to have the drink last long enough that I worry about it getting warm.

If you find that the drink is too sweet, either increase the amount of bourbon (my recommendation) or just decrease the amount of simple syrup.

COCKTAIL: Mint Julep
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Print Recipe
Mint and bourbon and the south and ice and booze and heat and did I mention bourbon and mint? No big hats or horses needed to imbibe.
Servings Prep Time
1 delicious cocktail 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 delicious cocktail 5 minutes
COCKTAIL: Mint Julep
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Mint and bourbon and the south and ice and booze and heat and did I mention bourbon and mint? No big hats or horses needed to imbibe.
Servings Prep Time
1 delicious cocktail 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 delicious cocktail 5 minutes
Ingredients
Brown Sugar Mint Syrup
Mint Julep
Servings: delicious cocktail
Units:
Instructions
Brown Sugar Mint Syrup
  1. Grab a small pot and toss everything in. Give it a stir so no sugar is stuck to the bottom and the mint gets mixed in a bruised up a bit (that will release more of the oils). Crank the heat to high and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat off and let it cool. You can make this a few days ahead.
Mint Julep
  1. Put one of your hands out, palm up. Take the mint leaves and place them in your palm. Say a little prayer to the liquor gods and with your free hand, bring it down upon your mint covered hand and clap them together. This is going to start breaking down the leaves and let the oils out.
  2. Add the blessed leaves to the base of your cocktail shaker. Top them off with the simple syrup. Grab a muddler or just use the handle of wooden spoon and crush the leaves into the syrup. The more your crush, the more mint flavor you'll get. You don't have to go crazy and break a sweat, but don't do it two times and stop either.
  3. Pour in the bourbon, fill with ice, put the lid on and vigorously shake it for about 8 seconds, or until the shaker gets all frosty.
  4. Take the top off your shaker and pour the contents back into your glass. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

The Brown Sugar Mint Syrup makes more syrup than you actually need. But this is good. It's fantastic because it means you can have Mint Juleps all week. It lasts for a very long time. Just keep it covered in your fridge (I use squeeze bottles for all my cocktail syrups).

You don't have to add the mint leaves back to your glass. I do because I think it looks nice and it keeps "steeping" in the bourbon. But you can shake and then strain over ice. Totally up to you.

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