2000s Recipes + Menus

Cocktail of the Week: Mint Julep

Makes about1 1/4 cups syrup, or enough for about 10 juleps
The Kentucky Derby isn’t just the first event in horse racing’s Triple Crown (the 135th Run for the Roses is May 2 in Louisville); it also marks the beginning of mint julep season. There are nearly as many recipes for this most American of cocktails as there have been Derby winners, but having a batch of mint syrup in the fridge makes it easy to mix up a frosty glass anytime (it’s also great in iced tea), and juleps really are too good to have only on the first Saturday in May. Using syrup instead of muddled mint also eliminates the weeds-in-your-teeth issue.

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups chopped fresh mint sprigs plus additional whole sprigs for garnish
crushed ice
1 1/2 ounces (1 jigger) bourbon, or to taste, per julep

In a saucepan combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chopped mint, and let the mixture stand for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into a jar or small bowl, pressing hard on the solids, discard the solids, and let the syrup cool. The syrup may be made 2 weeks in advance and kept covered and chilled. (The syrup will darken but this will not affect the taste.)

For each julep fill a silver julep cup or 10-ounce glass with some of the ice, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mint syrup, or to taste, and 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, and stir the julep or holding the cup at the rim rotate it back and forth very rapidly. (A frost will form on the outside of a silver cup.) Garnish each julep with 1 of the additional mint sprigs.
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