the Mint Julep, who among
us is not a southern sympathizer? This refreshing concoction,
the great-grandfather of all infusions, is perhaps the most
misunderstood of all cocktails. Although the Julep's origins
are lost in antebellum antiquity, it almost certainly originated
south of the Mason-Dixon line. Mixed with the finest aged and
mellow rye, the distillation of which is almost a forgotten
art, the Julep is a natural combination of the South's finest
elements: warm summer days, good whiskey and naturally growing
By Kevin Brown
Before we delve into the logistics of the Julep, let us dispel
any misunderstandings. A Mint Julep has but four ingredients:
rye, mint, ice, and sugar. Perversions of the Mint Julep, manufactured
with bourbon, gin, rum, and even brandy, may be tasty indeed,
but should never be confused with the real thing. So be careful,
if you order a Mint Julep and see the bartender reach for pineapples,
crême de menthe, or some sort of green syrup, cancel the order
immediately, for you are dealing with an ignoramus scarcely
capable of serving up a Bud Lite. A proper Julep is a simple
infusion that will well reward the patient purist.
My own great-great-grandfather, a southern gentleman of some
distinction, recorded his prized recipe on the back of a Confederate
note, which he sandwiched between the venerable leaves of our
family bible, Timothy I:23.
building of a Julep is a majestic rite, a divine ritual that
must be approached with reverence. Begin with ice fresh from
the cellar. Carefully wrapping the ice in a coarse, clean cloth,
smash with an ice hammer into a fine powder. Set this aside.
Now, pick your mint. Choose from the youthful sprigs, for they
hold the sweetest flavor. Carefully separate the stems from
the leaves. Drop these into a tall silver mixing glass. Add
three teaspoons of powdered sugar, then the ice, then your finest
reserve rye and stir. [Here he refers not to confectioners'
sugar, but superfine powered sugar.] Continue for twenty
minutes, finally straining the contents into two derby cups.
Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint. This recipe is inviolate.
S. Evans III
is most likely necessary regarding certain aspects of this
recipe, most specifically the "derby cup." Discard
your standard glassware; this is no affair for that insulated
crystalline material. Instead, reach deep into your locked
cabinets for the family silver. There you may find a small
silver (or, worst-case scenario, pewter) cup. This is
your derby cup. If you are fortunate enough to find one, know
that you are born of distinguished stock, and that at least
one of your forefathers (or mothers, as it were) was an individual
of taste and refinement. The derby cup is a simple affair
constructed of silver or pewter of approximately 3.5"d
x 6"h. The natural conductivity of these heavy metals
distributes the icy coolness throughout the drink. The derby
cup is an absolute must for any serious Julep drinker. If
you do not have such a vessel, there are but three options:
1. Don't drink a Mint Julep
2. Scour the antique shops
3. Order one from Shirley Pewter at
concern to the Julep drinker of today is finding a source
for quality rye. Good rye is much smoother and more mellow
than bourbon, and prior to Prohibition, American rye was the
preferred drink. This is why so many classic cocktails, from
the Julep to the Old Fashioned to the Manhattan, require rye.
Today, however, rye is very rare and limited to only three
distillers: Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, and Old Potero. Surprisingly,
the best among these, Jim Beam, is also the cheapest. Another
note of caution: Some uneducated oaf of a sports bartender
may try to pass off Canadian whiskey as rye. It is not. Canadian
whiskey has the same percentage of rye as bourbon, only about
33 percent. Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery also produces a
rye that, although a very good whiskey product, is "rye"
in name only.
that the matter is clear, here's to a truly civilized invention.
Enjoy your summer.