As far as I’m concerned, the key is to use a straw. I’ve tried all kinds of stuff — making mint-infused simple syrup, for example. But all you really have to do is muddle mint with sugar and a little club soda, add a generous amount of bourbon and some ice, and drink it out of a straw that reaches below the ice cubes to the muddled mint area.
What do you guys think?
Off topic, it is damned hard to find mint juleps at a bar. When I lived in Athens and my sister visited, we went to every bar in Athens asking for one (yes, a couple of yankees going door to door asking for a southern stereotype went over well). Finally, someone told us we’d have to go to Savannah. And when I went to Savannah, we had to try three places before we found one that had them.
I also think they taste better the longer they sit. Or maybe I was just getting drunker.
I’ve lived a good long time and never heard a gentleman order one of these.
I think that’s right too. I made one, took a sip, and then did some stuff around the house. It tasted much better when I came back.
licensed to kill time
If you want mint, have a refreshing mojito!
@DougJ: It makes sense. Muddling the mint will cause an initial release of the minty goodness into the drink, but letting the drink sit for about half an hour lets the full oils from the mint leaves permeate the drink. Same reason why a lot of soups taste better the second day.
@DougJ: XY chromosome.
Way back in the 1970’s. my mother used to order mint juleps on the plane ride down to Florida. In coach no less.
This country was a different, better place back then. At least air travel was a lot better.
@licensed to kill time: Agree with you 100%. Mint julep=blech.
I think the best way to make a mint julep is to have a margarita instead. :-)
Heh. Mint Juleps might be one of the few things I can drink for the next few days…
Major aqueduct springs ‘catastrophic’ leak; boil order issued for Boston, 37 towns
Doug J you could at least give credit to lifehacker since you’ve obviously been reading it today.
I went to a Derby party once where, iirc, the host had blended sugar syrup + water with mint until it was a green sludge, then added the bourbon. Actually worked pretty well – the whole concoction was minty and drinkable.
Off-topic, mint is a fucking weed. I had the bright idea to plant some last year, and it sent runners all over the rest of my herb garden. Smarter gardeners (that means pretty much everyone but me) apparently plant it in a pot.
Right now I’m drinking something made with lime juice, sugar, and Brazilian rum. The name of this drink is on the tip of my tongue. Damn, I hate when that happens…
I didn’t know anyone drank mint juleps except on Derby Day.
@Yutsano: That makes sense. I also think the drinks meant to be served over ice probably improve in proportions as the ice melts.
DougJ, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks they take better the longer they sit. As cocktails go, I think the mint julip is overrated, and is a Derby tradition only because the large amount of bourbon helps soften the blow from losing money on the ponies.
@4tehlulz: At least it’s just water. These are things we must be grateful for.
Doesn’t it seem that the earth is mad at us these days?
I only like mint juleps when they’re made with rum. ;-) Putting in bourbon must have been an act of desperation when they ran out of rum.
My father-in-law’s then-girlfriend was very wary of the mojitos we served at our wedding because she’d had and hated mint juleps, but the rum made all the difference.
licensed to kill time
Yeah, the bourbon ruins what could be a lovely drink. See, if you use white rum instead of bourbon, and add some lime, whatcha got there is a fine mojito. Which you can drink all afternoon long, right up to the point where you fall face forward into your potato salad and have to be dragged off to a quiet corner to sleep it off, because those little suckers will sneak up on you they taste so darn good.
What? Is that a blog?
An American in Exile
I was going to write that next time you should just tell the bartender you want a mojito with bourbon instead of rum, and hold the lime. Obviously, however, this line of thinking was not unique to me!
One of the Gawker spawn sites
As usual, the Derby coverage ranges from silly to sillier (except the bit on Stately Victor is making me a little weepy).
They’ve been heavily promoting Disney’s upcoming movie about Secretariat, which is kind of hilarious, as they’re trying to sell it as a housewife’s impossible struggle against the odds to bring a horse to the Triple Crown. Penny Chenery (S’s owner) is, by all accounts, a class act, but she’s a wealthy heiress, and the “You have to come up with $6 million dollars!”) they keep showing in the trailer is a reference to what the Chenery family owed in the Estate Tax. To owe that much in Estate Tax, one is not exactly “just a housewife.”
But who am I kidding, I’ll go see it.
@Mnemosyne: Ohhhhh…. mojitos. Sigh. So very delicious; you’re so right.
@licensed to kill time: Rum is far superior to Bourbon, which is a liquid that ought only to be drunk by cigar smoking old men, like my grandfather who used to keep a flask of Jack Daniels in the glove compartment of his Chevy Nova.
No one younger than John McCain should drink that stuff.
Yeah, the coverage sucks.
I love those linen suits the men wear (though there’s not enough seersucker today) and the hats the women wear. It all looks so much more comfortable and relaxed than anything we yankees would do.
Off topic, it is damned hard to find mint juleps at a bar.
I’m having trouble figuring out what ingredient they lacked. Or was this like the BLT/toast thing from that fucking movie with Jack Nicholson?
Isn’t the difficulty of getting a Julep (or a Mojito) at a bar just a problem with a bar having no reason to keep fresh mint on hand unless they were going to make a lot of Mojitos or Juleps?
@beltane: Um, Bourbon is freakin fantastic. Just not with some damn sludge + herb mix.
licensed to kill time
Exactly. Any liquor that makes you grimace when you sip it is just nasty, unless it’s tequila. Because there are very nice tequilas which do not induce grimacing.
But there is no such thing as nice bourbon, IMHO.
Bourbon is good stuff. I generally prefer rye, but good bourbon — Maker’s or even more so A. H. Hirsch — is great.
Now you’re just being goofy. Criticizing bourbon as a spirit because of unkind feelings about Jack Daniel’s is like criticizing rum because Parrot Bay is shite.
Might have been a touch of the scene from Five Easy Pieces.
@DougJ: I just stop and think, “Would they ever do ‘Top Chef: SuperBowl?'” or ask baseball players how they choose their outfits? (No joke; yesterday someone asked during Bravo’s Kentucky Oaks coverage how jockeys chose their riding outfits.)
But honestly, I’m not sure how to fix it. The main event is 2 minutes long and it’s a sport that depends on gambling.
Very well put.
Though I am finding Bob Costas’ slight expression of panic kind of endearing. He admitted during a horse racing event some years back that he knew absolutely nothing about the sport and was just doing the coverage because NBC made him. Clearly that hasn’t changed.
I used to bartend. We’d only be able to do them every now and then, but that was because we insisted on letting the muddled mint settle for a week in the fridge before we’d serve it. And then it was quickly gone.
Ah, rye. My favorites brands are Sazerac and Vintage Rye 21. The latter is motherfucking expensive, but damn that shit is good.
@DougJ: My husband is a big fan of Basil Hayden. I like it because it’s mentioned in one of my favorite Fountains of Wayne songs.
Add just enough bourbon to wet the sugar into a thick paste before you start muddling the mint. The alchohol in the bourbon will help extract the essential oils from the mint. Then add the club soda and a generous amount of bourbon.
I am glad to see that proper, upstanding progressive types who recognize the unquestionable superiority of the mojito in the realm of muddled-mint alcoholic beverages have already arrived.
as far as bourbon goes, i’m awfully fond of Blanton’s these days. but it’s hard to beat Maker’s for value.
mojito’s are fine (a bit past their peak of hipness, though). try a caprihana – some funky south american booze with lime and sugar and more lime. it’s refreshing like a mojito, but without the danger of mint in your front teeth.
@MTiffany: Man, all this talk has me actually craving a mint julep and I can’t have one (pregnant). I’m sadly looking at a little bottle of Blanton’s, with its little horse on top. Well, next year.
We don’t have any mint, anyway. I’m not certain about sugar, either, come to think of it…
@charlequin: The mojito may well be the superior muddled mint drink 364 days a year, but on Derby Day, the julep rules.
@beltane: Do you mean a caipirinha? Cachaca, lime and sugar – I lost too much time in Sao Paulo with that drink!
I’m thinking the sucky coverage of the Kentucky Derby is partly due to the producers not deciding what the theme would be for the show- sentimental stories? Small time owners trying to make it big? Calvin Borel, Churchill Downs wunderkind? Todd Pletcher- will it finally be his year, with a filly to boot?
Ssshhh– you, handicapper man on the TV screen. Shut up about Stately Victor; he’s one of my picks.
Of course, I picked the horse that ran a very game… uh… 16th… last year.
Bad Horse's Filly
Stating the obvious here, that is one ugly track today.
How long ago where you here in the Classic City? Today is the Human Right Festival and the Hot Corners Fest as well.
I would never sully my bourbon with anything other than a single ice cube
I left in 2002.
Visited friends in Louisville & thought “might as well try a Julip”. It was hard to find a place that would make one (it was past Derby day) Finally we did & the bartender made a not bad drink. When we finished he stopped by & said “Well, I see you managed to choke down your Julip!”
I love good bourbon & _J_uvenile _D_elinquent ain’t it. But like with so many mixed drinks you don’t want to use the best booze for them since it can get lost in the mix.
Juleps aren’t something you order, they’re something you make at home and serve to guests.
And the Derby is, to be blunt, the sports equivalent to the WH Correspondents dinner, where everyone dresses up to be seen and be part of the in crowd. Statistically speaking, the nation would better off if ebola swept through the bleachers every year. I can muster up enthusiasm for many sporting events that I do not regularly watch, but not for the triple crown, even though I have nothing against horses or horse racing.
@Bad Horse’s Filly: You ain’t kidding. It’s not often you hear trainers hoping it keeps raining, because the only thing worse than a sloppy track is a sticky one.
@Martin: Obviously you’ve never been down on the ground floor with the rest of us peons.
Though I’ve never actually gone to the Derby, and am not likely to, as I’m told it’s the absolute worst place to watch the race.
@Cameron: Yes, that’s it! It’s the drink that makes me want to take the next flight to Rio.
@DougJ: I got here in 84 and been here ever since.
Can I just troll for once and say that the Kentucky Derby is about the most overrated sporting event in U.S. history. FTMFKD, I don’t care how much of Hunter S. Thompson’s genius came out of watching a bunch of high-priced hat-whores obsess over a 2-minute race.
ETA: @Martin makes my point well too.
@arguingwithsignposts: It’s just another trumped up reason for people to drink.
@arguingwithsignposts: Are you kidding me? It is the only sport I can think of where the athletes may all actually have horses’ asses, but never act like them.
Unless of course you have a major a**hole as a neighbor, in which case, plant the mint right along the edge of the property line. Tee-hee.
Sigh. But yet again, I have to hear lots of winning connections thank God. Dudes, I am going to go out on a limb and say God doesn’t give two shits about sports.
I’m a bourbon drinker (I was also a scotch drinker until the scotches I liked went from 33 and 41 a bottle to 67 and 75 a bottle !!!). I like it neat , as it comes.
I can see the appeal of Basil Hayden, but the floral tones that other like I find very offputting. I keep Makers around always, but my personal favorite is Baker’s.
(I drank Bookers at a bar once and got totally blind — I didn’t realize it was 126.5 proof…..)
I usually grab some mint and do the infused-sugar-syrup thing. Saves me muddling trouble. I keep the mint syrup around all summer for juleps when I’m in the mood. All I do is let the syrup drip down the ice for a minute or two (in the freezer), add the bourbon, stir a bit, frost the glass rim with confectioner’s sugar, and put a sugar-coated mint sprig in it.
As the ice melts and the sugar slides in, it just gets mintier and sweeter all through. Slow sipping drink….
The Main Gauche of Mild Reason
I did a blind tasting of a bunch of bourbons with some friends a couple months ago. Most people who claimed to like Makers Mark singled it out as one specifically they didn’t care for neat. Knob Creek, however, came out excellent all around, and Bulleit was quite popular as well.
The existence of the modern drinking straw is owed to the mint julep. Three cheers for this significant drink.
@The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:
Knob Creek is actually really good. IMO.
I remember hearing an NPR program where they interviewed an expert on making mint juleps right around Kentucky Derby time (some famous bar in the vicinity). I’ll have to admit, it made it sound rather appealing (with the caveat that you had to like whiskey [bourbon] to start with). From memory, the highlights were:
You must use a metal glass and hold it at the bottom or top rim as this allows frost to form on the side of the glass. The ice must be prepared by placing in a towel and smashing with a mallet to a powdery consistency like snow. I think they ‘bruised’ the mint leaves at the bottom rather than crush. Powdered sugar was involved at some point. The part that sounded so good was that the aroma and the taste subtley shifted as the ice in the drink melted and was consumed. I guess that’s why tradition has it associated with leisure for its unhurried pace and cooling properties in a sweltering southern climate.
You can use superfine sugar as well. The crushed ice is what makes it. Never heard of club soda.
@The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:
Interesting. I’ve always liked Bullet. Knob Creek is too ‘spensive.
all this bourbon talk is knocking me out of lurking. Bulliet manhattans are my drink. But if I have the stacks, I love me some Van Winkles. Just the 7 year old. I smoke too many Camels to taste the difference between that and the 12 year old (which is ludicrously expensive for bourbon). Old Granddad is a surprisingly good value too…the 114 is pretty smooth.
@Corner Stone: My husband once did a focus group on bourbon- at the end, after sampling numerous bourbons, he was given a $100 honorarium and a large bottle of Knob Creek. He said it was two of the greatest hours of his life. I’m not much of a bourbon drinker, but I do love the smell of Knob Creek.
Mint juleps are NOT a southern stereotype, at least not here in North or South Carolina. The only place famous for them is Kentucky and while they may share some of our temperate weather and climate, as so the state of Maryland, neither actually are part of the south excepting the Mason Dixon Line which placed both states in the southern hemisphere. Now if’in you want some copper tube moonshine straight out of an illegal still, as the stereotype goes, that’s readily available all over the south, just ask the first guy you see in overalls…he knows.
Thanks for the correction. For some reason I equated it with the antebellum South.