…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work
Hello my thirsty friends. It’s almost Derby time, and that means it is time for a good Mint Julep. You may not be in Kentucky, but you can still drink this and get lucky.
The Julep is one of the very first cocktails, and derives from an Arabic drink that involved muddled rose petals. Imagine what the Middle East would have been like nowadays if they only had bourbon back then. Oh well.
Also, small trivia fact, most of the original classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Juleps were originally made with Cognac as that was the prevailing spirit of choice in the US until the turn of the 20th Century.
Most of today’s Juleps are disgusting sweet minty messes; one of my pals said that the worst one she ever had was actually at Churchill Downs, which is the nexus of Derby! It’s time to take the Julep back.
This recipe is easy and is a variation of one served at the Violet Hour in Chicago. The ingredients are simple, but you want to make sure that you follow all of the steps to get the best experience. The rich syrup perfectly offsets the mint and the over-proof bourbon goes well with the ice (watering down is not a problem here). And I can tell you from personal experience – this Julep made me start liking the drink for the first time ever. In mere moments you too will want to build a porch with a rail on your house and start enjoying some white privilege!
And I should add that it is getting increasingly difficult to find Weller Antique nowadays; the bastards are starting to figure out it is good. And while not my first choice for sipping (I tend to gravitate toward Weller Special and Weller 12), it is fantastic to have around for your mixology needs!
I’m posting this now because it is going to be really hard to find this stuff as next week approaches. You can generally source it for around $25 for a 750mL bottle or if you’re lucky, you can find a handle (1.75 L) for around $40-45. So get your booze and mint together NOW.
2-3 Mint leaves, cleaned and dried with a paper towel
3 ounces of overproof Bourbon (Weller Antique 107 is my favorite)
1/2 ounce of rich (2:1) Demerara Syrup*
|From left to right, stainless steel straw/spoon, Hawthorn strainer, Boston shaker and top, muddler, Julep cup, mesh strainer|
Load the Julep cup with crushed ice and insert straw. Muddle the mint leaves in the small part of your shaker with the syrup and a little bit of crushed ice (this is the secret). Shake with ice for thirty seconds, and then double strain (using the mesh and Hawthorn strainer) into the ice-filled Julep cup (and this keeps tiny bits of mint from getting in your cup). Enjoy!
* Demerara syrup is simply raw or Turbinado syrup dissolved in water. For rich syrup, take two cups of sugar and 1 cup of water and heat at almost a boil until dissolved. Let cool completely and mix in an ounce of vodka – this will stabilize it for months in the fridge. I like to put my syrups in clear food service squeeze bottles; they are really inexpensive.|
**If you haven’t an ice crusher on your fridge or a Lewis bag and mallet, there are two great solutions. One would be to put ice in a gallon zip lock bag and beat the hell out of the ice with a wooden rolling pin. Second option is many fast food restaurants, especially Sonic, sell “pellet” ice for cheap, I keep some in my downstairs fridge for cocktail emergencies.
I’m making these today. I don’t have any proper Julep cups, and I’ll be damned if I’ll drink them out of Mason jars. Rocks glass it is!
We’ll have to make this a showdown. We did have the OWA in the research lineup and just found it too hot. While I love OWA, somehow the Woodford won in our blind tasting for THE perfect mint julep.