The Mint Julep is one of those grand old drinks that everyone has heard of, but rarely ordered. To experience it properly, you really do need to have it in a classic mint julep cup, shiny silver, coated with a thin film of ice, piled high with finely crushed ice, and garnished with mint. On a hot summer day, when all of your chores are done, it's hard to imagine anything better.
It is usually made with find Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, but brandy was most likely the original spirit that was used. Rye whiskey works well too.
- 3 ounces whiskey (or brandy)
- 4 whole sprigs spearmint
- 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
Garnish: Mint sprigs and dusted with powdered sugar.
- Muddle in a cocktail shaker until the sugar is dissolved and the mint is blended in.
- Add ice, and then shake well.
- Strain into a silver mint julep glass (or highball) filled with finely cracked or shaved ice.
- Add more ice to bring level back to the top.
- Garnish with additional mint sprigs, then lightly dust the mint sprigs with powdered sugar.
There are two traditional aspects of the Mint Julep, which many will see as critical to it's proper execution and service.
The ice that the drink is served with is usually finely crushed or shaved ice. One common way to produce this ice, is through the use of what is known as a Lewis Bag. This is essentially a small canvas bag that you put the ice in, then pound with a mallet in order to crush it into a fine snow. The cloth of the bag will wick away any water that is produced, leaving you with a fine powdery ice that you can fill the glass with.
The second signature of the Mint Julep, is the use of a silver julep glass. Usually 6 to 8 ounces in size, made of silver, with sides that slope slightly outward.