Mint Julep

Posted by TraderTiki on May 4th, 2008 — Posted in Bourbon, Rum, Trader Vic

April showers bring May flowers, and this weekend brings about that time honored tradition of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, and its drinking counterpart, the Mint Julep.

There’s not much on this subject I can tell you about that hasn’t been written already. In fact, Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Mint Julep post has just about everything you need to know about it. There are a few further twists that can be picked up (if you can find it) in Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Em. There’s a multitude of stories and julep recipes. Seems like everytime you cross a state, county, city, or even street in the south, someone’s got their own way to make a Mint Julep, and a cross-eye towards any variance in their time-honored tradition. I have to go with Stanley’s first recipe though, a nice in-between that serves damn nicely.


Mint Julep

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 dozen mint leaves
  • 1 jigger Bourbon whiskey
  • 1 pony rum

Put the mint leaves into a tall glass in which the julep is to be served. Add the sugar and crush in a little water. Pour in the Bourbon whiskey, then the rum, and fill the glass with shaved ice. Jiggle the mixture with a long-handled spoon (do not stir) until the outside of the glass or metal goblet is heavily frosted. Arrange a bouquet of several sprigs of mint on top just before handing to the recipient, who will ever after bless you.

I’ll have to admit to throwing in a few tricks from Chris McMillan’s Mint Julep video, as I tend to incorporate his authority in any New Orleans (or, well, just about any) drink I make. Ice first, then booze through the ice for that extra cooling effect. As well, being gentle with the mint, so as not to arouse any of the bitterness in the mint. Oh, and if using a 1:1 simple syrup instead of sugar, be sure to use a bit extra… there’s quite a bit of water in there.

You’ll notice a bit of a variation from the standard of an all-Bourbon drink above, which is, the inclusion of rum. After all, for an all-American (with European and Arabic influences) drink like the Mint Julep, which has been around since who knows when, Rum was once the American spirit, and bound to be in a few recipes. Even Jerry Thomas’ bon Vivant’s Companion lists a “dash of Jamaica Rum” as a component in a proper Mint Julep. Of course, even then there are variations with Peach Brandy and Brandy, and even Cognac. Long live the variations.

Trader Vic even has a recipe for a full Rum Julep in his Book of Food and Drink. Bourbon Juleps, as he says, can go “where the monkey put the peanuts”. I don’t agree with him entirely, but must agree that Rum and mint tend to go together as well as any Bourbon I’ve had. He recommends 3 ounces of light rum, prepped the same, and served with the mint sprigs and a slice of lemon.

Whichever style you have it, whether Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, or even Blue Bayou (sprite and mint syrup… for the kids), now’s the time to have one.

Top shelf rum tasting

Posted by TraderTiki on May 1st, 2008 — Posted in Events, Galley, Rum, Tasting


Bottles line the shelves in my basement, a great source of insulation in the summer heat, or in winter’s cool. At times though, the collection can be a touch overwhelming, like a library bookshelf of half-read books, dog-eared pages and slightly bent spines, waiting for a bit of time and patience. Sometimes, though I appreciate their presence, I see the bottles for what could be there.

My day-to-day mixing rums and other liquors get replaced on about a monthly basis, but my sippers and “this and thats” tend to stay quite awhile, sometimes years, before they make any movement. So, what better way to make some headway and share some fine fun with folks than hosting a rum tasting!

Last Friday was the first in what should be a bi-monthly or so event, with a rum tasting at the Reynoles Galley. The theme this month, Top Shelf Rums! A fine selection of rums from Guatemala, Venezuela, Cuba, Antigua, Jamaica, and two blended Naval rums. Here’s a link to the tasting notes PDF that was used for the event. Use it, find the rums, and taste for yourself!

Here is some info on the rums tasted, along with tasting notes from a few of the local liquorati.

Sea Wynde - Light Vanilla and butterscotch nose, sweet and smooth body with a bit of fire. Smokey finish. Did not stand above the crowd, but generally smooth.

English Harbour - Gentle honey notes, but very light nose. Very vanilla body with no burn on the finish.

Havana Club Barrel Proof - Floral nose, surprisingly smooth all over for a barrel proof rum. Complex with lots of floral and maple notes, and extremely well-balanced.

Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserve - Sweet vanilla, some citrus on the nose. The body is like pure maple syrup, with no burn on the finish. Fantastic sipper, though a bit one-noted.

Zaya - Almost no nose, strong brown sugar and maple body, with an almost bourbon-like finish. A fantastic top shelf rum.

Pusser’s 15 year old, in the Trafalgar-edition bottle. - Fantastic bottle Sweet, fruit and grassy nose. Complex but balanced body, with some strange copper notes, but mostly honey and a bit of woodiness to it. Sugary finish with a bit of pleasant burn. An outstanding rum.

Appleton 21 - Citrusy, cinnamon nose. Nose follows into the body, with the same flavors, along with some honey. Smooth, sugary finish. Top of the Appleton line (until we see the 30 year, maybe).

Ron Zacapa XO - Sweet and smokey nose. Subtle and smooth body, with light tastes of apricot and honey, and a hint towards salt. The finish is strongly maple. Fantastic, but maybe not worth the jump in price from the Centennario.

I’ll have to put up a template for those tasting notes. Ed Hamilton also has a great post to read at the Cocktail Times on Rum Tasting, which I passed out to attendees. Grab some bottles and invite some friends over, it’s a guaranteed good time.

Update: Here’s a blank rum tasting PDF.  Enjoy!