Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

Seeking the perfect mint julep

Since Derby Day was Saturday, I knew I needed to be prepared to make mint juleps for the gang this weekend. I was delighted to discover an article in USA Today sitting at the airport gate in Pittsburgh, liberally quoting Maker's Mark president Bill Samuels, Jr., so I knew I'd be on the right track.

On the way to the hotel, we stopped at a couple of stores for some bourbon, fresh mint, and sugar, and one of the things I did Friday afternoon was to make simple syrup on the stove. (Heat equal amounts of water and sugar in a pot, stirring frequently, and gradually stir in as much more sugar as will dissolve. This is a vital bartending ingredient.) I cooked a little of the fresh mint in the simple syrup, figuring I'd just need it for the mint juleps. When Chris looked longingly at my mint syrup and wished he had plain simple syrup for his own mixing, I made another batch.

Then Joan and Ricky arrived from Kentucky, bearing a thoughtful gift from a mutual friend who couldn't come for the weekend... a bottle of Maker's Mark's premixed mint julep. We tasted a bit, and it's not bad, but it's not as good as the fresh kind.

Friday night starting at midnight (once it was officially Derby Day), I made quite a few fresh mint juleps, using crushed ice (not shaved), a couple of mint leaves, a splash of my mint syrup, and a pour of bourbon, finished with a swirl of the glass to mix. Everyone seemed very pleased with the results, and I certainly was. I drank several myself between Friday and Saturday night's gatherings.

This is the sort of drink that works especially well in the spring, and that I virtually never have other than on Derby Day, but I'm pleased that this batch came out so well and made so many folks happy.

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