The Mint Julep — A Refreshing Summer Treat

Particularly among VLO’s friends in the southern latitudes, the mint julep holds a certain primacy of place as the preferred cocktail of choice to help take a bite out of summer’s oppressive heat and humidity. Indeed, fans of the Kentucky Derby cannot fathom enjoying the ponies without this centuries-old American cocktail to help relax the mood.

Like all classic cocktails, however, the mint julep’s recipe is a matter of substantial debate. The traditional ingredients are bourbon, sugar, water and mint. Traditionally served in a pewter or silver cup (with a copper core to freeze the contents), nowadays you’ll get your mint julep in a highball glass, with a mint leaf garnish.

The most basic preparation:

  • Put four to six sprigs of mint leaf in the bottom of a glass with a splash of bourbon and granulated sugar to taste. Muddle gently to allow the mint oils to seep into the sugary goop. Allow to stand for a bit.
  • Strain into the julep cup, rotating to allow the syrupy concoction to coat the sides of the glass.
  • Fill the cup with ice and add the remaining bourbon — usually 3 oz.
  • Garnish with a sprig of lightly slapped mint.

Although rare today, in the nineteenth century gin-based juleps were popular. Today, the Kremlin Colonel is a julep that uses vodka instead of bourbon.

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