“The “julep,” you see, was medicine, pure and simple, and it always has been” –David Wondrich.
I remember clearly the first Mint Julep I ever ordered. It wasn’t during the Kentucky Derby, though it was in the summertime, and it was, coincidentally, at the exact bar that I now work behind. I remember how much I hated the drink. Young and innocent, the drink I was expecting to be sweet, minty, and refreshing—sort of like a bourbon version of a daiquiri—was instead boozy, spicy, and lightly sweet. My virginal palate could hardly guzzle down the drink.
Since then, whiskey and I have developed a much closer relationship. Regardless, still to this day I’ve never ordered another Mint Julep. It isn’t exactly my go to drink. But sitting on my back porch, enjoying this 70-degree, breezy weather while it lasts, I feel as if the perfect sipping companion truly would be a Julep.
I’m not much of a Southern girl. I hate the heat, I have no grace, I’ve never been one for traditions (unless brunch counts), and I’ve certainly never worn a wide brimmed-floppy ass, girlyasfuck hat.
Nothing against that at all, that’s just not what I do. I’m a hellion at heart. Even so, any excuse to enjoy a fine cocktail on a sunny Sunday afternoon is good enough for me, so this Sunday I’ll be making Mint Juleps in honor of the Kentucky Derby.
While the Julep has been considered a cocktail since the late 1700’s, it wasn’t until 1802 that the first mention of mint was added to the recipe. Likewise, while the Mint Julep is considered a bourbon drink, it was traditionally made with brandy. In 1938 the Churchill Downs declared the Mint Julep the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
Rx Mint Julep- from the Harper’s Monthly 1857.
2 oz White Sugar
1 oz Water
1.5 oz Strong Cognac
.5 oz Rye Whiskey
Mint Leaves, as Desired
Dissolve the sugar in the water, lightly press the mint leaves in the resulting syrup, add the spirits and the ice, stir. If desired, you can add another hedge of mint to the top. And have it with a Straw.