It's almost Derby time and that means it's also JULEP TIME!
For the unexperienced, a Mint Julep might seem like a ladies drink, soft and supple, with sweet notes of mint. Don't be fooled, it's one boozy-ass bourbon-packed cocktail, lightly-sweetened and enhanced with fresh mint.
There's a million and one ways to make them, but after some experimenting, we've narrowed down the recipes to this version, which we like to call The Perfect Mint Julep.
It starts with the right Bourbon. Of course, we here in Nashville often reach for Belle Meade Bourbon. They just recently won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so you know it's good. But you know what else? Take a look at the label. There's horses on there - see, it must be perfect for Mint Juleps!!
The other thing we like to do is to make a mint extract of sorts. Start this process at least a day ahead. For each cocktail you'll make you will need 1/2 ounce of this extract, so plan accordingly. We've included the easy recipe below.
Finally, you'll want to have a good julep cup, crushed ice and a short straw. Why a short straw you ask? Because it conveniently puts your nose right above the fresh mint sprig, enhancing the enjoyment of this perfect classic cocktail.
2 oz Belle Meade Bourbon
.5 oz mint extract (see recipe below)
.5 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
fresh mint sprig
Mix together your liquid ingredients and set aside. Fill your julep cup with the crushed ice halfway before placing the sprig of mint so that the top leaves extend about an inch from the rim. Fill the rest of the way with ice, using it to hold the mint sprig in place. You'll want to overfill the cup with ice so it's rounded on top. Carefully pour in your bourbon mixture, add a straw, kick back and enjoy.
Make the mint extract by infusing 10 fresh mint leaves with every ounce of Belle Meade Bourbon. Let sit at least 24 hours before using.