The Mint Julep: one that you’ve heard of, but most likely haven’t had properly. Most places make these with a packaged mix or mint syrup – for no good reason. The process is roughly as difficult as making a cup of tea: Steep fresh mint in bourbon whiskey with sugar, then add ice. The hardest part is waiting a few minutes for the flavors to infuse. Preparing this drink properly is a bit of a challenge and takes some skill. But you’re up for it, right? Juleps as a style of drink go back farther than we have reliable records, as far back as 15th-century Europe, where a “julep” was a flavored sugar syrup mixed with medication. In Colonial America, mint juleps were first made with brandy, then whiskey as word got down south.
3 oz bourbon whiskey
1/2 oz simple syrup
10 spearmint leaves
1/2 to 1 oz tonic water or sparkling mineral water
Muddle lightly and stir to blend.
The key here is lightly – if you bust up the mint leaves, they’ll release bitter chlorophyll. The flavor you want is actually in the little fibers that coat the leaves.
Add an ice cube and let it steep in a cool place for five minutes.
Fill an Old Fashioned glass or Julep cup about two-thirds of the way up with crushed ice.
Gently strain the infused whiskey and sugar over the crushed ice – don’t shake too much.
If you prefer it gentler, top with the mineral water.
Stir to blend and garnish with a mint sprig that’s been lightly slapped against the rim of the glass to release its aromatic oils.