There is a tradition at my house. On Derby Day, we eat fried chicken and drink Mint Juleps.
To be clear, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'm not even from Louisville. Maybe its because my brother Nick is a chef there and The Derby is a pretty significant event in his world. More likely, its because it is associated with a pretty good (and rather unusual) drink.
So on Derby Day, we eat fried chicken and drink Mint Juleps.
OK... its a cliche. I'm fine with that. This year's batch is in the fridge mellowing right now. I actually have a pot of mint on the patio (not in the garden - it spreads like nothing else) that was selected specifically for its julep-compatible flavors - "Kentucky Colonel".
I'm writing today to share my recipe. I'm assuming that, like me, many of you out in barista-land are home mixologists as well. And this drink recipe rocks. It is from a five-year-old episode of Food Network's "Cooking Live" with Sara Moulton. I guess it's Bill Samuel IV's... he's the guy who's initials are molded into the Maker's Mark bottle. Guy knows his bourbon drinks, right?
I usually make half a recipe, cause I like other bourbon drinks too and the full recipe takes a whole bottle. It uses a home-made mint extract, so it is a little non-traditional. But it is smooth, and minty, and tasty. Too tasty...
Here it is, more or less as printed. Enjoy it on Saturday!
The Perfect Mint Julep
Recipe courtesy Bill Samuels
4 cups bourbon (I like Makers for this. b)
2 bunches fresh spearmint
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
Make the mint extract:
Place about 40 mint leaves in a small bowl and cover with 3 oz of bourbon. Allow leaves to soak 15 minutes, then gather and wring out in a piece of paper towel back into the bowl (I prefer to smash the bourbon out of them in a small wire strainer, though I suppose an unbleached Melitta or Filtropa paper filter would work... or perhaps an aeropress?). Return the bruised mass back to the bourbon in the bowl and repeat the steep-mash process a few times.
Make the simple syrup:
1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Boil, cool, blah blah blah.
Mix the drink:
Dump the rest of the bourbon (3-1/2 cups) into a bowl or measuring cup. Add 1 cup simple syrup. Add mint extract to taste... about 3 Tbsp, but you may not use it all (I always use it all. I like 'em minty and hate to waste bourbon. I guess you could always add the rest to a favorite customer's mocha tomorrow?) Pour finished mix into an empty bottle and stash in the fridge for at least 24 hours to mellow.
Fill each glass half full with crushed ice. Add a mint sprig, then pack full with ice. Put glasses in the freezer until they are good and frosty. Fill with the mix and enjoy.