Mint Julep Recipe
By Bill Lawson
The Mint Julep originated in the Southern United States during the 18th Century, and is frequently associated with that region in popular culture. The dictionary defines the word "julep" as a sweet-flavored drink, frequently containing medicine or alcohol. The Mint Julep is probably the most famous variety of juleps, however, and was the drink of choice for the upper class in the South.
My grandfather fixed "Mint Juleps" for me when I was a boy, sans liquor, using mint from my grandmother's flower bed. He claimed to've learned how to fix them from a steamship captain he used to work for. He and the captain would fix the drinks from the captain's office on the bank of the Mississippi River in Memphis.
It's interesting to note that some plantation owners may have had ice, even well into the summer, so they could have enjoyed Mint Juleps in the hot months when it would've made the most sense to drink them. Some plantation homes such as Waverly, had an ice pit dug into the ground in back of the manor where large blocks of ice could be cut from a nearby river in the winter and buried in the ground under sawdust, which would insulate it and keep it from melting until they wished to use it. Some bars and homes in larger cities may have had access to ice using similar methods.
We've presented here what is probably the most common recipe for the classic drink -- we hope you enjoy this flavor from nearly 200 years ago!
Muddle the mint and sugar in a tall glass, smashing the mint leaves and sugar up against the sides of the glass with a spoon. Wrap ice up in a tea towel and smash with a hammer until they're in fine pieces. Pour a cup of the ice into the glass and add the bourbon. Stir well to allow the drink to chill and for the ice to melt slighty.
Garnish with more spearmint leaves and serve in small, silver cups.
An alternate recipe is based upon using simple syrup instead of the caster sugar. If using that version fo the recipe, the syrup must be prepared in advance, and then well-chilled. Use less ice and mix with the smashed mint leaves and bourbon.