Hello my thirsty friends. It's Derby time, and that means it is time for a good Mint Julep. You may not be in Kentucky, but you can still drink this and get lucky.
The Julep is one of the very first cocktails, and derives from an Arabic drink that involved muddled rose petals. Imagine what the Middle East would have been like nowadays if they only had bourbon back then. Oh well.
Most of today's Juleps are disgusting sweet minty messes; one of my pals said that the worst one she ever had was actually at Churchill Downs, which is the nexus of Derby! It's time to take the Julep back.
This recipe is easy and is a variation of one served at the Violet Hour in Chicago. The ingredients are simple, but you want to make sure that you follow all of the steps to get the best experience. The rich syrup perfectly offsets the mint and the over-proof bourbon goes well with the ice (watering down is not a problem here).
2-3 Mint leaves, cleaned and dried with a paper towel
3 ounces of overproof Bourbon (Weller Antique 107 is my favorite)
1/2 ounce of rich (2:1) Demerara Syrup*
|From left to right, stainless steel straw/spoon, Hawthorn strainer, Boston shaker and top, muddler, Julep cup, mesh strainer|
Load the Julep cup with crushed ice and insert straw. Muddle the mint leaves in the small part of your shaker with the syrup and a little bit of crushed ice. Shake with ice for thirty seconds, and then double strain (using the mesh and Hawthorn strainer) into the ice-filled Julep cup. Enjoy!
* Demerara syrup is simply raw or Turbinado syrup dissolved in water. For rich syrup, take two cups of sugar and 1 cup of water and heat at almost a boil until dissolved. Let cool completely and mix in an ounce of vodka - this will stabilize it for months in the fridge. I like to put my syrups in clear food service squeeze bottles; they are really inexpensive.|
**If you haven't an ice crusher on your fridge or a Lewis bag and mallet, there are two great solutions. One would be to put ice in a gallon zip lock bag and beat the hell out of the ice with a wooden rolling pin. Second option is many fast food restaurants, especially Sonic, sell "pellet" ice for cheap, I keep some in my downstairs fridge for cocktail emergencies.