The Mint Julep Recipe

Posted in Bourbon on March 4, 2014

mint julep

The Mint Julep is a very old cocktail believed to have originated in the southern parts of the United States in the 18th century. The first written reference about it appeared in 1803. It was described then as an alcoholic drink with a minty flavor which was consumed in the morning. However, at that time there was no reference concerning the alcoholic base of the drink. It is traditionally made with bourbon, but gin based Mint Julep was also popular in the 19th century. Nowadays the gin version was abandoned and only bourbon it is used. The term julep literally refers to a medicinal remedy and it comes from the Persian language. However, the drink has nothing medicinal to it.

If you research the Mint Julep, you’ll come across numerous variations and also across various methods of preparing it. The most common one includes mudding the mint leaves with the sugar or the sugar syrup. The purpose of doing so is to allow the mint to release its aroma and its oils into the drink. Another key element for the success of this cocktail it is the use of crushed ice. Using any other type of ice won’t create the same frosty effect on the glass. Traditionally, the Mint Julep was served in pewter or silver cups which were being held by the top or the bottom. This was done in order not to interfere with the temperature of the drink. Nowadays it is usually prepared in highball glasses, Collins glasses or old-fashioned glasses. It is also sip through a straw. Given the fact that this bourbon based cocktail is pretty strong, sipping it slowly is highly recommended when drinking it.

How to Prepare Mint Julep

You need the following ingredients:

  • 4-5 fresh mint springs.
  • 2 ½ oz. of bourbon.
  • ½ oz. of sugar syrup or 2 sugar cubes.
  • Crushed ice.

Put the mint and the sugar syrup (or the sugar cubes) in a Collins glass, an old-fashioned glass or a highball glass, as you desire. Muddle them in order for the sugar to dissolve and for the mint to release its flavor. It might take one or two minutes, but it is sure worth the effort. Pour the bourbon and then add the crushed ice. Stir until the glass becomes frosty on the outside. This is when the drink has the adequate temperature for being served. You can also garnish with a fresh mint leaf.

You can prepare a Mint Julep at home if you like to watch horse races because this cocktail is traditionally associated with the Kentucky Derby. Around 120.000 Mint Juleps are served during the Derby and they are all prepared in collectible glasses. A very expensive custom-made version of the cocktail is also served starting with 2006 and the money is used for charity. However, the variety served at the Derby is made with Early Times whiskey. It is known as Early Time Mint Julep.

Other variations of this cocktail include the Georgia Mint Julep which is made with brandy and peach brandy, the 56 Julep which is made with Wild Turkey 101 bourbon and brown sugar and the Peach Julep which is has little to do with the original recipe. It is made with real peaches, Makers Mark bourbon, peach liqueur and peach bitters.

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