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Cover: Shaken and stirred

23Mar 12

Mint Julep

Mint JulepA couple of years ago, I was stranded at a Kentucky airport for 12 hours. I was on my way from Miami to New York, and a storm forced our plane to land in rather a hurry. I was left feeling a little uneasy when I got off and decided to visit the nearest bar for a drink. The bartender recommended a typical Southern cocktail to stabilize my emotions: the Mint Julep. It is probably one of the simplest drinks I have ever tried, and also one of the best.

A mint julep is made with four ingredients: mint leaf, bourbon, syrup or sugar, and water. Traditionally spearmint is the mint of choice used in Southern states, Kentucky in particular. Apparently the secret to a good mint julep is to use loads of spearmint. The flavour is so good that it makes me think that I should also try it in my mojitos.

The origins of the Mint Julep are somewhat of a mystery. The first time its name appeared in writing was in 1803, in a book published by John Davis in London. It was described as “”a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” It is suggested it was first concocted in Kentucky. Henry Clay, State Senator, then took the recipe to the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel in Washington while he was in office. These days, it is the official drink at the world famous Kentucky Derby track.

The most important ingredient in a mint julep is bourbon. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County. It has been produced since the 18th century.

I have never actually been in Kentucky, except for its airport. I don’t know if I will ever return, but my couple of hours there were enough to give me a good memory of the place and a great cocktail to share with you.

Ingredients:
• leaves from 4-5 spearmint sprigs
• 2 sugar cubes or 1.5 cl simple syrup
• 7.5 cl bourbon
• mint sprig for garnish

Preparation:
1. Put the spearmint and simple syrup or sugar into a julep cup, Collin’s glass or double old-fashioned glass.
2. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and to release the oil and aroma from the mint.
3. Add the bourbon.
4. Fill with crushed ice and stir well until the glass becomes frosty.
5. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Time: 4 minutes
Serves: 1 cocktail

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One comment

  1. […] Home-made lemonade is incredible stuff.  It’s so very tasty and is simply bursting with vitamin C.  Great for kids and grown-ups alike!  I make jug loads of it throughout the spring and summer, usually to enjoy with friends when they come round to share good food with us on the terrace, but also for us to enjoy as a family. (If you prefer a more adult drink, try this refreshing mint julep.) […]

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