Make a bottle of mint juleps

03 Aug

If you want a mint julep, the easiest thing to do is to tackle the nearest gentleman in a white suit and hat. In the rare event that you aren’t at a horse race and can’t find any southern gentlemen to relieve of their beverages, you could make your own at home. In fact, you can keep an entire decanter of mint juleps steeping in your liquor cabinet at all times. It’s a good way to talk yourself out of a duel with a pistol-packing Colonel Sanders, especially if you just knocked him down and stole his drink. All you need is a bottle and a desire for sweet, minty whiskey.

I had a great bottle (found at a thrift store) that looks like an extinct Ikea model. It needed a use, and I needed to have a mint julep. So, besides the bottle, we’ll need three ingredients:

1) Bourbon. Only whiskey from Kentucky can be called bourbon. Use something you like that isn’t terribly expensive. Evan Williams is a fine, inexpensive bourbon.

2) Mint. You can buy fresh mint at grocery stores or grow your own; a small mint plant in a pot costs only a few dollars and is easy to raise. I have an amazing ability to make plants wither and die, and yet, I have somehow failed to kill my mint plant after months of halfhearted watering. If mint can survive my attempts to nurture it, then it must be just about invincible.

3) Honey. Traditional mint juleps contain sugar and water, but this variation uses honey instead. Honey will dissolve gradually and add a rich, sweet flavor to the bourbon.

The proportions will vary with taste; I suggest a few tablespoons of honey and a half-dozen mint leaves for each cup of bourbon. Combine all ingredients in a closed bottle. Honey doesn’t dissolve very easily at room temperature, so shake the bottle to mix the ingredients and then wait. After a few hours, enough of the honey will have dissolved into the bourbon to give you a sweet, minty beverage. Pour over ice in a chilled glass, being careful to keep the leaves in the bottle; you could use a screen or other filter to catch the leaves if you like. The melting ice dilutes the drink just enough that you may forget that, essentially, you’re drinking straight bourbon.

Keep the bottle topped off with bourbon, mint, and honey and you’ll have a never-ending supply of mint juleps (you may want to empty the bottle periodically to get rid of used-up sprigs of mint). If you make a barrelful and buy yourself a white suit, you’ll be the life of the next Kentucky Derby.


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  1. McCaul

    08/15/2010 at 2:41 pm

    MUST try this!!! We all bought the Maker’s Mark mint julep but it was a special item during the Preakness. Now we can have it all year round. :-D

  2. marybeth.fedor

    08/20/2010 at 12:34 pm

    I want one now!
    The Maker’s Mark recipe is almost exactly the same according to the guy at the Keg’s & Barrels event… then again, I was drinking a lot that day!