Friday, May 4, 2012

Derby Day Drink - The Mint Julep

When it comes to drinks for Derby Day, there's the Mint Julep and then there's nothing else.  The mint julep and the Kentucky Derby have been kissin' cousins for a long, long time.  Spring is here and it's hot in South Florida.  This drink is sure to keep you cool and refreshed while you watch and wish for your horse to come in!

I've been busy at the Blind Tastes Speakeasy mixing up mint juleps all night and we've finally nailed down a solid recipe to pass along so I'll share it with you below.  Don't forget that Bourbon Steak will be mixing up juleps like crazy for $5.00 tomorrow so be sure to come to the party dressed in your Derby Day best and ready to have fun and stay refreshed.

Bourbon, simple syrup, mint, & a stainless steel Julep Cup is all you need...
There are two schools of thought on the mint julep.  One says that the julep is a drink to savor and the other says that the julep is to be consumed rapidly.  Members of the savory club will use a higher proof bourbon to combat the melting of the ice over time that will water down the drink slightly.  Those who drink quickly will not pay attention to proof and instead focus on their favorite bourbon to add flavor.  Both sides will agree to stay away from the more premium bourbons whose flavors need not to be ruined in a cocktail.

Here's what you'll need...

8-10 mint leaves
1oz simple syrup
3oz bourbon
crushed ice
additional mint sprig for garnish/aromatics
1 stainless steel julep cup or other drinking vessel of your choice

I tend to fall in the middle but slightly to the rapid consumption side.  I've always found that Woodford Reserve makes for a great mint julep, especially if you're using a stainless steel julep cup.  Stirring will frost the cup and the cocktail will stay ice cold with minimal melting goin' on.  Woodford is a 90.4 proof (45.2% alcohol) bourbon with nice notes of wood and very floral on the finish.  I like the way the floral notes blend with the mint.  It's also not very sweet which is key because we'll be adding simple syrup.

To begin, take your mint leaves and gently muddle them in your julep cup.  You really don't need to go nuts here.  Just a light muddle will release the oils of the mint to get them rockin'.  Next, add your simple syrup.  I like to give a little stir here too to marry the mint and sugar water together.

Now you'll need your crushed ice.  You can crush it easily in a blender but the heat from the blender will produce some water so be sure to strain the ice out before adding to the cup.  The alternative is to take a towel and put your wrap your cubes in it and then beat the crap out of it with a rolling pin or a wooden muddler like I do.  You'll want to fill it to the rim or above the rim.

The next ingredient is the star of the show - the bourbon!  pour it over the ice and then grab a bar spoon and stir until the outside of the julep cup begins to frost.  If you're using a glass this may be tough to achieve so you can just move on to the next step. 

Ok, you've got your bourbon in there, it's icy cold and you're ready to go bottoms up!  But wait!  Add a little spring of mint to the drink.  When you sip the drink, the aroma of the mint will tickle your nose and make your julep taste even more awesome.  Pro tip: that mint is still good!  Pluck the leaves and use it for your next julep!

The Mint Julep
So, there you have it.  I hope this improves your Derby Day experience and that you'll enjoy a couple juleps while cashing in on your winning ticket!

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