We hold a select few traditions dear in my family. Mixing proper whiskey drinks is one of those traditions. No other mixed drink is more synonymous with my old Kentucky home than the mint julep. The 1st Saturday in May marks Derby Day every year, and no doubt mint juleps are the most popular drink at Churchill Downs. If you don’t bet all your dollars on the first leg of the Triple Crown, you can even treat yourself to a $1,000 mint julep.
Anyone who has lived in my motherland the Dark and Bloody Ground knows how brutal the heat and humidity in the Spring can be. During these muggy Derby Days I do enjoy a mint julep, although not just any one will do. The real secret to the best mint julep is in the cup, believe it or not.
If possible, you should use Sterling Silver cups. If not, a silver-plated glass will do, but under no circumstances should you make my tasty bourbon drink in a plastic container. This may sound pretentious, but the bourbon does not chill properly, nor does the mint crush properly in a plastic container. One of the other secrets for proper taste is having crushed ice instead of cubes. Be sure to crush the ice in a blender or use a bar towel and a mallet if you did not purchase it pre-crushed. For best results, enjoy on a warm day.
The Main Ingredient:
Bourbon – Evan Williams Single Barrel is my favorite whiskey to drink neat. For this recipe, the brand matters not, but I use Kentucky Gentleman or Early Times for large batches.
1-2 tablespoon of sugar depending on your taste
1 tablespoon of Meyer’s Dark Rum
6-7 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint for garnish
shot of hot water
3 ounces well, call or top-shelf bourbon
fresh clove of nutmeg
Put the sugar in the bottom of the glass along with a tablespoon of dark rum and dump a shot glass of hot water in there with it. Give it about 30-60 seconds to cool a bit. Next, put your mint in a frosted silver cup and bruise it with a muddler. Then pack the cup with crushed or shaved ice to the brim. Finally, pour your jigger of bourbon in and shove a straw along with mint garnish into your chalice of splendor and grate a tiny bit of nutmeg on top. Now prepare to bet on ponies and get crunk with the classy.