Saturday, May 5, 2007

Classic Mixed Drinks: The Mint Julep

(Churchill Downs, Kentucky)

In honor of today being Kentucky Derby day I thought I would continue my little series on Classic American Cocktails, or "Saving You From The Big Pink Drink"! The first part of this series, The Manhattan, can be found here. You should check it out. In honor of the Kentucky derby, I hink I will talk about the Quintessential Kentucky Libation, the Mint Julep:

The Mint Julep
is a mixed alcoholic drink, or cocktail, distinctive to the southern United States.

A mint julep is traditionally made of four ingredients: mint, bourbon, sugar and water. In the use of sugar and mint, it is similar to the mojito.

The drink was probably invented sometime in the 18th Century. U.S. Senator Henry Clay introduced the drink to Washington D.C. and the northern United States. The word 'julep' is derived from the Persian 'julab' meaning rose water.

Traditionally, mint juleps were often served in silver or pewter cups, and held only by the bottom and top edges of the cup. This allows frost to form on the outside of the cup, which some consider a sign of gentility. Others merely find it pleasant to look at.

The Julep & The Kentucky Derby
  • It is well-known as the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, a position it has held since 1938; during the event, more than 80,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs. For over 18 years, the Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail has been the designated "official mint julep of the Kentucky Derby".
  • In May 2006, Churchill Downs served 50 custom-made mint juleps at a cost of $1000 each at the Kentucky Derby. The mint juleps were served in gold-plated cups with silver straws, and were made from mint imported from Morocco, ice from the Arctic Circle, and sugar from the South Pacific. The proceeds will be used to support charitable causes dedicated to retired race horses.

Mint Julep

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Here Is a ridiculously complicated variation for those who like big pink drinks. (I say there are like 5 too many ingredients in this one. You want the real deal, go with something like the recipe above.)



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