‘Tis the season for the Mint Julep.
A julep is defined as “a sweet drink” and originated from the Arabic drink, a julab, which is a sweet combination of water and rose petals. On its journey across countries, the rose petals were then replaced with mint leaves and later consumed as a morning drink by early-rising farmers… a refreshing alternative to coffee. Now over 80,000 Mint Juleps are served every first weekend in May at the Kentucky Derby and has been Churchill Downs’ signature drink since 1938.
Naturally for Derby Weekend, my family and I enjoyed homemade Mint Juleps of our own. With fresh mint growing in the front yard of my sister’s house, all we needed was some delicious bourbon and simple syrup.
First, muddle a few sprigs of mint at the bottom of an old-fashioned glass or tumbler. Be sure to crush the leaves enough to smear the bottoms and sides of the inside of the glass.
Next fill the glass with crushed ice and pour in about 1 oz. of simple syrup and about 1.5 oz. of bourbon; stir to combine. Use another sprig of mint to decorate.
If you don’t want to use simple syrup, you can substitute for about 1/2 teaspoon of caster (or superfine) sugar and some soda water. If you’re up for it, try and experiment with a mint-infused simple syrup (recipes below)!
Missed the Kentucky Derby? Preakness is on May 21st, followed by the Belmont Stakes on June 11th!
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Store covered in a glass bottle or container in the refrigerator.
Mint Simple Syrup
Fresh mint, chopped
Follow above Simple Syrup recipe. After removing from heat, add the fresh mint and cover with a lid. Let the syrup stand until completely cool. Strain into a glass bottle or container covered and refrigerate until needed.