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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Lavender Mint Julep: a refreshing Derby Day cocktail

The Run for the Roses is this coming Saturday.  Are you feeling bored with the classic Mint Julep that you’ve been drinking year after year?  Looking for something different while still remaining true to the spirit (no pun intended) of the event?  Look no further, the Lavender Mint Julep may be just what you need.  The best thing about this delicious cooler is that it’s made exactly like the classic Mint Julep, but the Lavender (a botanical relative of Mint) adds a spicy twist to the taste.  The only difference is that you substitute Lavender-infused Simple Syrup for the garden variety Simple Syrup in the run-of-the-mill (well, that may be unkind) Mint Julep.

Fortunately, Lavender-infused Simple Syrup is easy to make.  Put equal parts of sugar and water into a sauce pan and stir as you bring it slowly to a simmer, just like you’re making simple syrup.  (A cup of each will make about 12 ounces of syrup.)  Add a couple of lavender stems (or use dried lavender) and let it just barely simmer for a few minutes, tasting carefully.  When the lavender taste is almost as strong as you would like, remove from heat, let it cool, and strain into a bottle.  The lavender taste will be a little stronger than when you turned off the heat.  Keep refrigerated.

This delicious cocktail is made just like a traditional Mint Julep, and can be served in a silver or pewter cup, or you can use an Old Fashioned glass, or even a Collins glass.  Whichever kind of glass you use, pre-chilling it in the freezer or with ice is a good idea.  Feel free to play around with the proportions of Mint and Lavender to get your perfect Lavender Mint Julep.  So get out your muddler and practice your Mint Julep technique now to get ready for Saturday.  (If you don’t have a muddler, use a spoon or any other blunt instrument that will fit in your mixing glass.)

Lavender Mint Julep

6-8 Mint Leaves
½ oz Lavender Simple Syrup
2 oz Bourbon whiskey

You will build this cocktail in the glass.  Place the mint and Lavender Simple Syrup into your Julep cup or an Old Fashioned glass.  Muddle 8-10 times to release the oil and aroma of the mint.  Pour in the bourbon and stir.  Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir briskly until the outside of the glass frosts up.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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