Now that derby day has come and gone, and that 10 pounds of mint we ordered for derby day is starting to turn in our walk-in, now seems like as appropriate a time as ever to start talking about the mint julep. If you’d like to know the origin story of the mint julep, there are plenty of resources for this, such as David Wondrich’s “Imbibe,” which would be more than happy to walk you painstakingly through the evolution from the sling to the julep.
Today, we’re here to talk about actually making the mint julep, and the classic preparation for the creation of the mint julep. I should note that as palettes have changed through the last 150 years, and how the nature of our spirits have improved, it is no longer as necessary to make mint juleps as sweet as they were when they were invented. It should also be noted that when mint juleps were invented, they originally called for brandy instead of whiskey, as most drinks did back then. For obvious reasons, we’ll be using whiskey.
This is the recipe for the classic julep we ran through our system on Derby Day. We added some peach bitters as well, mostly to brighten up the booze-forward drink, and we partially pre-diluted the drink so it would even out when ice was added. We ran this through a Cornelius keg into glasses with crushed ice, so we’re giving the measurements we used for the keg. But chances are you won’t be making as many mint juleps as we did on derby day, so you’re better off sticking to the smaller proportions
I should also note that there are debates about whether or not to leave the mint in the drink, or merely to rub the inside of the tin with mint, and then discard it. I say if you’re not using mint syrup, there should almost certainly be mint in the bottom of your tin. But hey, that’s just me. There are about a million different ways to make this drink, and most of them don’t include peach bitters.
2 oz Maker’s Mark -> 12 Liters
0.5 oz Mint Syrup -> 3 Liters
Fee Brothers Peach Bitters (we added one bottle to the mixture, but one dash is fine)
If you don’t have mint syrup on hand, you can just as easily use a handful of mint leaves, lightly muddled into some simple syrup, or just use mint, water, and powdered sugar. There’s no wrong way to do this as long as you have mint, sugar, and spirit.
Muddle mint and sugar together in a julep tin, then fill with 2 oz of bourbon, stir and fill the container with crushed ice to form a snowcone-like mound on the top of the tin. Garnish with a mint sprig and two small straws, positioned over the mint sprig, so you smell the mint as you drink.