HOW TO MAKE A MINT JULEP!! KENTUCKY DERBY STYLE!
in honor of the annual running of the Kentucky Derby tomorrow I am sharing how to make a delicious and refreshing mint julep. It’s the official drink of the derby! The Kentucky Derby was a favorite of my mother’s. Every year she would watch all day the full coverage about the horses, the history and eventually the running of all the races leading up to the main race that would determine the winner. Kicking off the triple crown of racing. Some traditions should not be questioned. I never understood her love for it, but in her honor I am going to try! #kentuckyderby2019 #mintjulep #allamerican #homemade
Growing up, the first weekend in May was an unofficial holiday in our house. The running of the Kentucky Derby was a favorite of my mother’s. She loved the racing, the hats, the pomp and circumstance of this old southern tradition. She looked forward to few things during the year. Strangely, the derby was one of them. A bit of history for you; The Kentucky Derby has continuously run every year since 1875. It is the apex of thoroughbred horse racing in the United States. It is the first leg of the triple crown of racing which also includes the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. During the derby over 120,000 mint juleps are served. This takes over 10,000 bottles of Kentucky bourbon, 1000 pounds of fresh mint and over 60,000 pounds of crushed ice. That’s a lotta lotta!
The word Julep has an interesting etymology. It hails as far back as 600 A.D. and was a word that once referred to medicine. So when you drink your julep you are drinking medicine. Or presumably so. Regardless of whether it is just what the doctor ordered or not, these are delicious and the perfect libation to enjoy during the end of spring and early summer when the days begin to become warmer and somewhat intolerant. This will cool you down quick and go down smooth. They are very easy to drink and so refreshing you will easily want to reach for another.
The julep starts off with fresh mint. I have a crop of mint that comes up yearly in my yard. So snipping fresh is best but if you don’t have that benefit, just grab a big bunch from the market. be sure to wash well and keep in a jar with some water to keep it ultra fresh.
Simple syrup is next. A blend of equal parts of sugar and water. You can use regular granulated white sugar or go for something more fancy and use demerara sugar. Mix, heat and cool. Now you have simple syrup to make mint juleps till the cows come home or the filly’s cross the finish line.
Next up is good quality Kentucky bourbon. I will say that you should not skimp here. Maker’s Mark is a great way to honor the tradition or you can choose what they use at the Derby which is Old Forrester’s brand. I have used Evan Walker’s Honey Bourbon today because that was easy to grab out of the cabinet. You should use what you like best, but please be sure it is Bourbon.
Last, but not least is ice, which, may not seem like a big deal, but it is so important that you can truly mess up your simple cocktail if you don’t do it right. Ice is going to make or break your drink here.
Start by muddling about a tablespoon of simple syrup with 10 to 15 leaves of fresh mint. Simply and gently bruise the leaves in the syrup to help infuse the mint oils into the drink. Don’t go at it with force because this will cause the bitter tannins of the plant to also go into the drink and you don’t want that. You will know when you have muddled enough when you can smell the minty goodness. Next add 2 to 3 ounces of bourbon to the syrup mixture. Stir well. Now is when the ice comes in. Fill that glass with crushed ice. Stir down and top off with more ice. Add a generous plume of mint to the cup and place the straw close to the fresh sprigs of mint.
Drinking a julep is an experience of the sense. You feel coolness of the frosty glass. You smell the fresh mint. You see the beautiful verdant mint and finally you taste the sweet, fresh, minty goodness. You can hear the crackling of the ice as you mix it with your straw. It really is the whole package.
I hope you will raise a glass of julep in honor of my mom for the Kentucky Derby and I hope you love it!
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