What's Mint to Be

4.20.2012

By Jason Rowan

A well-made Julep is a thing of beauty.

Aunt Bernadine’s Mint Julep Recipe
Jim Beam’s Whiskey Professor, Bernie Lubbers, got this recipe from his aunt, and he suggests placing about a quarter-inch of sugar on the bottom of your julep container -- which works equally well for a single serving or a jug of juleps (not recommended for amateurs).

Bourbon (to taste)
White sugar
8 mint leaves
Crushed ice

In the bottom of your cup (preferably silver, silver-plated, or pewter, in that order) or glass (a highball will do), add a quarter-inch of sugar. Lay mint leaves atop sugar, tapping with a muddler -- hard enough to bruise, but not hard enough to break, which releases bitter oils. Top with crushed ice, then pour bourbon. Place mint sprig on top. A good stir gets the sugar and mint blended in with the bourbon and gives critical dilution.

The Sugar Question
It’s unusual to see plain white sugar in a cocktail these days, but it works in the julep. Alternately, simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) imparts sucrose more swiftly, and demerara (or demerara syrup) has a more savory quality. Infusing mint with sugar is a nice way to expand the mint’s presence: Toss some leaves into a one-to-one sugar-water mix and bring to a low boil, simmering for two minutes. Then, strain and press the leaves for maximum expression of oils.

A Note on Crushed Ice
Dropping bags of store-bought ice on the floor is a recipe for a wet disaster. Try the Lewis Bag, based on a canvas coin pouch used for banks. Stuff it with ice and bang it with a hammer or, for a more gentlemanly approach, a muddler. $3.95, CocktailKingdom.com

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