Make Your Own KY Mint Julep

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Photo of an authentic Kentucky Mint Julep with an authentic recipe

It is the very dream of drinks, the vision of sweet quaffings. The Bourbon and the mint are lovers. In the same land they live, on the same food they are fostered. The mint dips its infant leaf into the same stream that makes the bourbon what it is. The corn grows in the level lands through which small streams meander. By the brook-side the mint grows. As the little wavelets pass, they glide up to kiss the feet of the growing mint, the mint bends to salute them. Gracious and kind it is, living only for the sake of others. The crushing of it only makes its sweetness more apparent. Like a woman’s heart, it gives its sweetest aroma when bruised. Among the first to greet the spring, it comes. Beside the gurgling brooks that make music in the pastures it lives and thrives. – J. Soule Smith, The Mint Julep: The Very Dream of Drinks, 1949

Interesting Fact!  Did you know that the invention of the straw was developed because Marvin Stone was dissatisfied with the way his Mint Julep tasted when using the natural rye grass “straw” of the 1800’s?

The following recipe is taken from “Out of the Kentucky Kitchen” by Marion Flexner, 1949.

1 or 2 ounces of Kentucky bourbon whiskey

1 T chopped mint leaves

1 T water

1 t sugar, or more to taste

Shaved or crushed ice to fill each cup

1 small bunch of fresh mint

2 straws, cut short

Place sugar and chopped mint in a small crockery bowl.  Bruise the leaves well with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture forms a paste.  Add water and continue stirring.  There should be a thick green syrup by this time.  now you are ready for the Bourbon.  Fill the julep cup half full of crushed or shaved ice.  Add the mint syrup and the Bourbon.  Fill the cup or glass with crushed ice.  Slip the bunch of mint into the ice, and beside it the straws.  They should be no taller than the mint.  Lift the cups onto a tray, being careful not to touch the sides with the fingers, and put them into the refrigerator to frost.  This will take from one to one and a half hour.  Serve at once.  this appears to be a most innocuous concoction, but it has a potent kick, as anyone who has tasted it for the first time can testify.  it should be sipped slowly and not tossed off at a gulp.

NOTE:  A silver julep cup is preferable for making this famous Kentucky drink, although it is by no means essential.  A frosty outside is the sign of a truly well-made libation.  If you are lucky enough to own such heirlooms, chill the cups thoroughly before mixing the juleps.  Glass tumblers may be substituted for silver cups if necessary – they will not frost however & you will not get an authentic experience.  Photo of a Kentucky mint julep with lots of fresh mint