I love Mint Juleps! I'm one of those "horsey girls" with a deep appreciation of Kentucky racing tradition, and the Mint Julep is definitely part of that! There's something about that alluring combination of mint syrup with the crushed ice and the best bourbon, as the band plays "My Old Kentucky Home" that sets me to tears. There's almost nothing that I love more than a Kentucky Derby Party and it's the perfect occasion for this drink. Fast horses, Gorgeous hats, a bit of bourbon, a fine gentleman and a wager or two creates a perfect day!
Because I am so "equestrian" (my cousin's nickname for me was "horse") only Blanton's Bourbon,with the cute pewter horse on the stopper will do! Blantons has a lovely smoky flavor, laced with burnt caramel that is absolutely luscious with the mint and sugar!
I have one other requirement for my Mint Juleps and that is that they MUST be served in a proper Julep cup. It can be silverplate, sterling or pewter, but a metal cup is a must. Quite simply, it keeps the drink colder longer. Also, the metallic tinge of the glass provides a delightful top note to the drink , a bit like what a touch of jasmine does to a predominantly rose perfume. Please trust me on this one!
I wish that I could take credit for this recipe, but this is the classic Julep recipe from Southern Living Magazine. It is simply the best version that I've found. To start, you must make a simple mint syrup which is very easy. Take a cup of water and a cup of sugar and bring it to a boil stirring often until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, add about 12 fresh sprigs of mint and refrigerate for 24 hours in a jar with a lid. Remove the mint after the infusing period and you are ready to go!
3 fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon simple mint syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bourbon
One 4-inch cocktail straw or coffee stirrer
fresh mint sprig
Powdered sugar (optional)
Place mint leaves and Mint Simple Syrup in a chilled julep cup. Gently press leaves against cup with back of spoon to release flavors. Pack cup tightly with crushed ice; pour bourbon over ice. Insert straw, place mint sprig directly next to straw, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
It's that simple...gentility in a glass!
Mint Juleps are amazing stirred and served with good friends and horse races, Hunter Trials in autumn, homemade cheese straws and ham biscuits!
Photographs are from Blantons Bourbon and Southern Living online.