The Run for the Roses is here! This Saturday the Kentucky Derby will showcase all its splendor with the thoroughbred horse races, the glamorous victory lap with a cascading bouquet, and yes, obscene amounts of Kentucky Bourbon. The latter bringing me to my point. Unless you are at the Derby, or near a very talented mixologist during the races, the mint julep recipe is easy to botch. But not if you're informed, and that's where Edible Times is here for you.
The keys to a successful mint julep, so you can concentrate on the race
First, fresh, beautiful mint leaves please, no exceptions.
Second, shaved ice. If you don't have an ice maker that shreds cubes into ice shards for you (for me and the Husband, no SoCal rental would ever offer such convenience), you can bag your cubes and pound with a mallet. Or pulse in a food processor if you have one, but freeze the bowl and attachment first.
Third, and perhaps most important, bring on the real Kentucky Bourbon.
The Bourbon matters
Jim Beam will do, Bulleit is better and Four Roses offers a sweet touch (plus, the name is fitting). For a true throwback to the original julep, look for a bourbon that's 90-proof or higher. Bonded Bourbon, a certification for 100-proof bourbon oak-aged for four years, would be the ultimate in authenticity. Old Forester comes to mind. But even a 90-proof Maker's Mark will stand up to the melting ice quite nicely.
Now you're ready to drink. To do so in classic Derby fashion, use this recipe. For a slightly simpler concoction, try the mint julep recipe below. Either way you'll have a julep worthy of the Derby, and more importantly, your taste buds.
Yours in juleps,
This julep is as fresh as it gets! If you don't want to bother with infusing a simple syrup, the fresh mint in this recipe will give your cocktail plenty of fresh kick.
If you concoct cocktails at home like we are during the coronavirus pandemic, I highly recommend a jigger like the ones found here, many of which are not expensive. For a fun, version designed like a measuring cup so you can see each ounce, check this one out from Sur La Table (no, I'm not getting paid to say this!).
- 4-6 sprigs fresh mint
- ¾ ounces (1.5 shots) simple syrup, store-bought or homemade
- 2 ½ ounces (2 ½ shots) bonded bourbon, like Bulleit or Buffalo Trace
- Gently bruise 3-4 mint leaves with a pestle or muddler, and place in a cocktail shaker with bourbon, mint simple syrup and a good handful of ice. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, gently crush the mint, then pour over the Bourbon and simple syrup, and mix well.
- Strain into a highball glass or classic silver goblet filled with shaved ice.
- Garnish with mint leaves.
Quick measurement conversion! 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.