How to Make a Mint Julep
You may have heard of this classic cocktail, but do you know how to make a mint julep? Daisy ordered them in The Great Gatsby, but this drink is generally associated with the South.
Juleps haven't been extremely popular cocktails in more recent years, but they have been making a come-back, especially at bars that follow the old-school cocktail trend.
Juleps at the Kentucky Derby
Mint juleps are popular at the Kentucky Derby. In fact, they are the official drink of this annual horse race. Although the mint julep was invented sometime in the 18th century, it became officially associated with the Derby in 1938.
To make your own mint julep, begin by muddling fresh mint leaves. You may use a mortar and pestle or, better yet, muddle directly in the bottom of the glass to retain the essential oil released by the leaves.
A Spoonful of Sugar...
...makes the medicine go down. The next step is to add a tablespoon of simple syrup, a liquid that adds sweetness and volume to your drink. You can purchase premade simple syrup, but it's not nearly as good as homemade, which is naturally very simple to make.
Making Simple Syrup
To make your own simple syrup, add equal parts sugar and water to a saucepan (about a cup of each). Bring the water quickly to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Set the pan aside to cool. Once you use what you need for your cocktails, you can store the rest for up to a month in the refrigerator.
Fill 'er Up
What makes a mint julep so refreshing is that it's filled to the brim with crushed ice. Purchase a bag of crushed ice or use your ice maker's crushed ice setting or your blender's pulsing function. In a pinch, place a few cubes between two towels and whack them with a spoon to make your own.
Smoky-Sweet Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon is the defining ingredient in a mint julep. It's typically made in Kentucky. Look for an affordable brand like Jim Beam or a middle-of-the-road type like Elijah Craig or Buffalo Trace, and top your cocktail with a couple of ounces of bourbon.
Fresh Mint Garnish
Finally, garnish your drink with a leftover sprig of mint.
The Pewter Cup
While it's perfectly acceptable to serve your mint julep in any highball or old-fashioned glass, juleps are traditionally served in pewter cups. Purchase a set of mint julep cups, and store them in the freezer for an hour before you make your cocktail for a frosty treat.
Now that you've mastered the art of making a mint julep, learn about other popular cocktails for your next party.