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Saturday, May 7, 2011

It’s Derby Day, time for a classic Mint Julep: the ultimate derby cocktail

It’s Derby Day again, and the Derby has a lot of fans in Salt Lake City.  Will you watch the race on TV while sipping a cocktail, or host a Kentucky Derby party, or are you just looking for a good cocktail to enjoy?  The classic Mint Julep is the answer to all of these challenging questions, and is almost a requirement for watching the big race.  A key ingredient for the Mint Julep is fresh mint, and you will need plenty, especially for a party.  Read my recent article on Mint to learn more about buying or growing your own mint.  The crop on the south side of my house will be decimated this morning.

Considering that it’s Mint Julep season, the Utah State Liquor stores have surprisingly few Bourbons on price reduction this month.  If you don’t have a favorite Bourbon, or are looking for a good one on sale, you might want to try Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey® (CS# 017086) is available for $22 ($5 off).  It’s in general distribution, so your local store should have it.

The traditional Mint Julep is served in a silver or pewter cup, because the metal chills down rapidly as the Julep is stirred, acquiring a cool-looking coat of frost.  Unless you pre-chill your metal cup, however, it will melt more of your ice.  An official cup looks cool, but to tell the truth, you don’t really need one.  If you don’t mind missing out on the frost, 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.  So get out your muddler and practice your muddling technique so you’ll be ready for Derby Day.  (If you don’t have a muddler, use a spoon or any other blunt instrument that will fit in your mixing glass.)  This delicious cocktail is easy to make and may be enjoyed until the frost kills off your mint crop. 

Mint Julep

6-8 Mint Leaves (large)
½ oz Simple syrup or 2 sugar cubes or 2 tsp. sugar
2 oz Bourbon whiskey

You will build this cocktail in the glass.  Place the mint and simple syrup or sugar into your Julep cup or an Old Fashioned glass (if you’re using sugar, add a teaspoon of water).  Muddle 15-20 times to dissolve the sugar (stir if necessary) and 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.

You can also try the Prescription Julep or the Lavender Mint Julep.

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