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.

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