Bourbon Never Tasted So Sweet
The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is not just for dapper Southern Colonels.
by Franklin P. Carruthers
Sweet and Minty
Mint Juleps have been around for a long, long time. Originating in the American South during the early 1800s, this delicious cocktail has become the de facto drink of the famous Kentucky Derby. Though its origins are murky, its flavors are not.
There are more juleps in the world other than simply mint. The term julep refers to a sweet, syrupy drink and originates from Arabic and Persian words, translating to “rose water.”
I was first turned onto this drink after a good friend of mine spent several months working at a hotel/casino in Pennsylvania. After work, he would spend time at the bar and soon became friends with the bartender. When asked what his next drink would be, my friend, on a whim, replied “I’ll have a Mint Julep.”
Much to his surprise, the bartender had a batch of fresh mint growing in the back, which he used to concoct this candy-like cocktail.
Preparing the Magic
Some preparation is needed for this drink. First, you need to make the simple syrup, which requires water and sugar. Take a small sized pot and place it on the stove over medium heat. Depending on the size of the batch of juleps you are planning on making, the simple syrup rule remains the same: 2 parts sugar, 1 part water. Heat the mixture until boiling, then scale back the heat and allow it to simmer, then to cool.
The Bourbon you choose to base your julep on is up to you, but I prefer to use Dickel (Zanotti’s wine bar in Stillwater uses this) Bourbon.
Ice is Key
Mint Juleps are best when the ice is crushed or shaved. You can use either a food processor to give a few quick spins and shave the ice into a snowcone like consistency, or you can put it all in a plastic bag and hit it with a hammer a few times. That’s the way to do it. Put some elbow grease and violence into it.
Making the Magic Happen
Place mint leaves in the bottom of a tall glass and sprinkle in some sugar. Add a few tablespoons of simple syrup and muddle. Pack glass with crushed or shaved ice and pour in Bourbon. Garnish with a few sprigs of mint. If the drink is a bit too bourbony, then add a little more of the simple syrup.
May this drink bring you good luck at the horse races!