March 28, 2016
What was once a concoction of sugary syrup and bitter medicine, much like most cordials and elixirs from the early 1700s, the Julep has now earned its place as one of the Bourbon classics. Though it is said to have been made with spirits other than Whiskey in its inception, the Kentucky Derby has solidified the Mint Julep as a Kentucky Bourbon staple since the 1930s.
The Mint Julep typically consists of a measure of 2 ounces of Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 1/2 ounce of a rich (2:1) simple syrup (try using a demerara or turbinado sugar for their flavors of caramel and toffee notes that you typically find in Bourbon), 8 to10 mint leaves, and almost as important as the Bourbon, the crushed ice! Place the mint and the syrup in the bottom of your glass or metal Julep cup. Press the mint leaves gently with a spoon into the bottom and sides of the glass. Add Bourbon and then crushed ice to the very top of the glass. Place a bouquet of mint as a garnish alongside the straw.
In the springtime, muddle fresh berries to brighten up your Juleps and give them a unique color and additional layer of flavor. Blackberries tend to be my go-to for a hot Kentucky day!
The Julep has earned its place as one of the Bourbon classics.
Director of Mixology & Spirits Education
Southern Wine & Spirits of Kentucky