Kentucky Derby Time: The ‘Oh So Good’ Perfect Mint Julep
Much like South Dakota is known for its pheasants and chislic, the southern states are famous for the mint julep. Its history can be traced back to 1793 by a southern pastor who prepared one daily. And, according to Wikipedia, Churchill Downs serves up nearly 120,000 of these refreshing concoctions every year at the Kentucky Derby.
The world's most famous horse race is this weekend so if you want to get on board with a perfect mint julep, here we go.
My friend and horse race enthusiast Scott Smith is one of them. He allowed me to follow along and take a few pics of this prized recipe of his mint julep. He calls it Smitty's NO HORSE $#^t Mint Julep. With a cool name like that...let's dive in! Here's what you'll need for gear to make it easier:
- Ice crusher (hand-cranked model available from Amazon for about $30 / otherwise, get some from Hy-Vee Gas)
- Muddler (STOP NOW if you don't buy a MUDDLER)
- Highball Glass (or copper Moscow mule cup / in a pinch, use a pint beer glass)
- Straw (from your favorite fast-food restaurant/check your glove compartment)
Here's what you'll need for ingredients:
- 5 Fresh Mint Sprigs (from your garden, or favorite grocer)
- 3 enthusiastic squirts Mint Bitters (Fee Brothers brand)
- 1/2 to 1 Ounce Simple Syrup (diabetics 1/2 oz., non-diabetics 1 oz. / Fee Brothers brand)
- 1/4 of a fresh lime
- 2 Ounces Bourbon (minimum 2 oz. / preferably full strength or barrel proof.
- Defoliate 4 mint springs and drop leaves in the bottom of a glass, saving 1 for your garnish...YES, a mint julep requires a garnish.
- Dump simple syrup in a glass.
- Shoot 3 enthusiastic squirts of mint bitters (or 4).
- An enthusiastic squirt of lime juice.
- Crush enough ice to fill your glass to the top.
- NOW IS WHEN WE MUDDLE...like there's NO tomorrow. Really grind the hell outa your mixture. Gotta release the oils in that mint.
- Pour your 3 ounces Bourbon (suddenly 2 became 3) over your icy drink-in-the-works.
- As far as bourbons go, Michtner's 10-Year Single Barrel was a perfect choice.
- Ssshhhh...I know it's only half-full. This is for your own good, so don't get hammered. You wanna have another one, don't you?
- Garnish your julep with your leftover sprig...that 5th one...like the 5th Beatle...George Martin...or Billy Preston.
- Insert straw into the bottom of the glass and blow, then stir...with vigor. Elevate that muddled mint and syrup to distribute the flavor. Suck straw while you raise it from bottom to top of the glass...from different levels.
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