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Mint Juleps

Guest Author - Nick Greene

If you have watched any movie set in the south, you have probably heard of mint juleps. Watching the character on the screen sweat, then seeing their obvious relief upon drinking their mint julep, you've also probably wanted to try one. So, what is a mint julep and where does it come from?

No one has a definite answer to the origin of the Mint Julep. It came to the knowledge of the general public when Englishman John Davis published a book in London in 1803 in which he describes a mint julep as "a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning." No specific type of "spirituous liquor" was mentioned. While bourbon is the usual choice for mint juleps today, several other types of alcohol have been used over the years, including gin and French brandy.

Although the origins are shrouded in darkness, there is little doubt that it is a southern creation, probably dreamt up in the eighteenth century. History records that U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky brought the drink to Washington where it became a staple at the Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel.

The name of the drink comes from the use of mint, primarily spearmint in the south and the word julep, which is defined as a sweet drink. Julep, apparently came from a Persian term, Golāb, which means rose water.

Mint juleps are normally served in a highball glass with a straw. However, there is also a tradition of them coming in a silver or pewter cup, which should have a copper core to allow the contents to freeze properly. During the last century, the mint julep has become closely associated with Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby.

Two Mint Julep Recipes

By The Glass
Ingredients:

  • Leaves from 4-5 mint sprigs
  • 2 sugar cubes or 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz bourbon
Preparation:
Stir the mint and simple syrup or sugar into a collins glass, double old-fashioned glass or silver julep cup. Add the bourbon. Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup.

Options: Garnish with a sprig of Mint.

By The Pitcher
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 to 8 Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
Preparation:
Boiling the sugar and water together for five minutes to make a simple syrup. Allow to cool and add mint. Place in a covered container and refrigerate overnight.

Make individual juleps by filling each julep cup with crushed ice. Then, add one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Stir rapidly until outside of cup is frosted.

Options: Garnish with a sprig of Mint.

Now that you've prepared a mint julep, grab a fan and sit out on your porch to enjoy a glorious southeast day.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Nick Greene. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nick Greene. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Amelia Maness-Gilliland for details.

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