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Jul 14, 2014


I can't do it.

I just can't post another pink drink this week. It's high season for all things berry but even I need a reprieve.

It's time for a classic but since it is the middle of summer only certain drinks will do. In the extreme heat I want something boozy but refreshing, it's got to be a Mint Julep.

I went with store bought mint this time. The supply in my garden had dwindled

If you're heading down to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail...well then you're probably more than just a home enthusiast and are already familiar with the Mint Julep. For everyone else this will be a brief introduction and with some luck, will spark your wanderlust and have you dreaming of a trip to one of the great southern States where a perfectly crafted Julep is so ingrained in the culture, they're available on almost every corner.

I had my first "Mint Julep" in a small, after work hangout bar in Vancouver. It was presented in a very cool Maker's Mark silver Julep cup but what was inside that cup simply did not do it for me. It lacked the cool refreshment I had been imagining and had barely a whiff of mint, if any at all. My vision of this mysterious potion had been erased, it was just some watery Maker's in a cup, not a Julep.

At the time I was working in one of Vancouver's top restaurants, a place where someone (not me) was meticulously crafting every sip that crossed peoples lips. I was tasting drinks all the time (classic, simple and elaborate concoctions) that were being presented at their absolute finest, this sad cup of whiskey from across the street, didn't stand a chance.

I had written the Julep off until a few years later when I found myself in Metairie, Louisiana. Always wanting to take in as much of what's local as possible, I sat down with a skeptical but open mind to a proper Mint Julep and had my "drinks world" changed.

Here are two videos of the Gentleman who made the drink. This is actually taken two years later when I returned to the Pavilion, a cocktail spot known only to a few outside of the small city near New Orleans. There is no other place like it in the world.

The key message is that no matter which recipe you prefer, don't scrimp on the mint. The recipe from the videos is given here so that you can start to practice making your own at home. Don't forget to adjust to your own tastes or that of your guests...

Mint Julep
1 3/4 oz Old Forester Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz mint simple syrup
1 bar spoon super fine sugar
1 bar spoon peach brandy

garnish generously with fresh mint and seasonal fruit

In a Julep cup or double old fashioned glass, add mint syrup and bourbon. Fill glass with crushed ice, garnish with mint, add sugar and berries, pour brandy over
Go ahead and rub pineapple too if the spirit moves you.

* Mint Syrup
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
1/2 c mint leaves

Over medium heat,bring sugar and water to the boil. Turn off heat add mint. Steep for 3-5 mins and strain. Store, airtight, in fridge for up to two weeks.

**A special note for the Canadians, that Old Forester is a little over proof at 86. I would dial back the sweetness a touch if using one of the standard 80 proof Bourbons available at the LCBO or if you have elected to make a "Moose Julep" instead by using rye whisky. Also, you will be relegated to using a limited selection of peach liqueurs and unless you make your own, you'll also need to dial back for sweetness here.
Please do not let me go on about the assassination of the peach trees in Niagara after the jam factory closed. There were so many other profitable uses for those beautiful trees...

Have you ever had a proper Julep? Are you guilty of scrimping on the mint?

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