If there’s one drink that’s synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, it’s the mint julep. This classic cocktail has been a staple of the race since the 1930s, and it’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot spring day.
But, the Mint Julep is not a cocktail that can only be enjoyed by attending the Kentucky Derby. You can also make the traditional cocktail at home.
You don’t have to be a Southern belle or a Kentucky Derby regular to enjoy the refreshing taste of a mint julep.
So, what is the secret of the Mint Julep, and why it has stood the test of time and become the Kentucky Derby iconic drink?
Let’s find out.
The Surprising History of the Mint Julep Cocktail
The mint julep is a beverage with a history as colorful as its flavor.
The mint julep was originally designed as a medical drink to treat the diseases of Southern living, but it rapidly became a symbol of elegance among the well-to-do.
In reality, it was already popular among Virginia’s upper crust in the early 1800s, long before it became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
Yet, let’s be honest: it was the Derby that placed the mint julep on the map. Drinking a mint julep at the Derby has become as much of a ritual as donning a fancy hat or betting on your favorite horse. You don’t have to be a horse racing fan to enjoy this traditional cocktail.
You can find more information about the Derby here: edge.twinspires.com/racing/kentucky-derby/
Step-By-Step Guide on Preparing a Mint Julep
Step 1: Choose the Right Ingredients
First and foremost, let us discuss the ingredients that make a perfect Mint Julep.
A superb mint julep begins with good-quality bourbon, so don’t scrimp here. Pick a bourbon that you love sipping on its own because it will be the main attraction.
Fresh mint leaves, sugar, and crushed ice are also required. If you want to go all out, choose a silver or pewter julep cup for the whole Derby experience.
Step 2: Muddle the Mint and Sugar
Once you got all the ingredients and put on your fancy Derby hat, it is time to muddle.
Place a couple of fresh mint leaves in the bottom of your julep cup. Add a teaspoon of sugar and gently smash the leaves with a muddler or the back of a spoon to dissolve the sugar. Nevertheless, don’t over-muddle; you only want to release the mint oils and integrate the sugar.
Step 3: Add the Bourbon
Now it’s time to add the good stuff. Pour two ounces of bourbon over the mint and sugar mixture, and give it a quick stir to combine. If you’re feeling daring, you can add a splash of water to tone down the alcohol, but let’s be real – who wants to do that?
Step 4: Add Crushed Ice and Garnish
The final step is easy – add crushed ice to your cup until it’s almost overflowing. Give it a gentle stir to mix everything together, and then top it off with a few more fresh mint leaves for garnish. Now all that’s left to do is sip, savor, and enjoy your homemade mint julep like a true Southerner.
Secret Tips for Making the Perfect Mint Julep Cocktail
Even though the Mint Julep might look like a simple cocktail that you can make at home, there are some things that you need to pay attention to in order to get the maximum flavor.
Here are some tips for making the best Mint Julep cocktail.
- Use fresh mint leaves instead of dried or powdered ones. You’ll get a better flavor.
- Don’t muddle the mint too much, or it will become bitter.
- Crushed ice is the best choice for this cocktail.
- If you don’t have a muddler, use the back of a spoon to gently press the mint and sugar.
- Adjust the sugar and bourbon amounts to suit your taste.
The mint julep is a classic Southern drink that’s easy to make and delicious to drink. Whether you’re hosting a Derby party or just want to enjoy a refreshing cocktail on a hot day, a mint julep is always a good choice. Follow these simple steps and tips, and you’ll be sipping like a Southerner in no time. Cheers!