Mint Julep

Viewed, but nowhere in sight. Your horse may not have come through, but a Mint Julep on Cup Day could make you feel like a winner.

Mint Julep

Mint Julep Close

2 Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
(or Brandy, if you wish (see below). I used Jim Beam Rye)
1 to 2 tsp sugar
Mint to taste
Additional mint sprig(s), for garnish

Dissolve the sugar with a dash of pure water (unless using syrup) in an appropriate vessel, be it a highball glass, julep cup or odd shaped thing I have. Add mint, and muddle gently to release the oils. Pour in the whiskey, and fill the cup all the way with crushed ice. Stir until a healthy frost develops on the surface of your chosen vessel. Top up with more ice if necessary. Garnish the surface of the drink with as many mint sprigs as you wish (anything from a twig to a forest’s worth), poking their stems into the ice. Serve with straws just long enough to give the drinker a noseful of mint.

I hesitated to take any detailed tasting notes because, really, it’s just as you’d expect. Simple but superb. To my tastes, it remained delicious even after heavy dilution from sitting on crushed ice for ages. A great relaxing drink to sip in the lazy warm months.

Some notes on method:

To make crushed ice from cubes or similar, cover the ice in a tea towel or other appropriate cloth, place on an appropriately sturdy surface and have at it with an appropriately sturdy whacking implement. I use a stone pestle and a wooden chopping board. I take no responsibility for any damage you may cause yourself or your property during such endeavours. Oh, and watch your fingers! Alternatively, when I keep party-ice-bags in the freezer, by the time I’ve been icepicking it for a few drinks I get a decent wealth of tiny bits which work fine for crushed ice drinks.

Some people like to muddle the mint with undissolved granulated sugar. This is a bad thing in my book, as it results in heavier extraction of bitter flavour elements from the leaves, and is more likely to leave sugar bits in your drink, which will ruin the texture if you’re inclined as I am.

Ideallly, I’d have used more mint for the garnish, but my mint plant is still recovering from the worst of winter. In the 19th century and on the Esquire Drinks site they seemed to like them bushy.

If using brandy, add a further small measure of peach brandy/eau-de-vie and a dash of dark Jamaican rum to make it a Georgia Mint Julep. I’ve never tried this due to a lack of peach brandy in my inventory. I think Mr. Thomas’ recipe for this variation calls for a further garnish of sliced orange as well. Sounds tasty.

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment