Mint Julep: A Drink for All Seasons
The mint julep may be sacred in the South, but so is college football, and that doesn’t stop us from enjoying it. It’s not a tuxedo, requiring a special occasion. It’s a drink, a splendid and simple drink, the ideal analgesic to a tough day at work, and the perfect — yes, perfect — counter to the redlining mercury of a hot Southern day. Its central ingredients — mint, bourbon, sugar — do not suffer from clumsy commingling, nor demand engraved vessels, nor mind if you root for the New York Giants so long as Eli is taking the snap. (They will, however, violently boil over if you add nutmeg.) Citizens, it’s high time to reclaim the mint julep from the curators, the purists, the tsk-tsking authenticators and frowning archbishops of Southern culture. Think of it like the blues: It’s swell that all these archivists are preserving it, and it’s great that a microtonal analysis of Robert Johnson’s “Drunken Hearted Man” demonstrates Robert’s debt to Lonnie Johnson, but, really, shouldn’t we all be dancing?
MINT JULEP RECIPE
½ oz. superfine sugar
1 oz. hot water
8 mint leaves, plus one mint sprig
2 oz. bourbon
Dissolve the sugar in the water in an old-fashioned glass (or julep cup, of course). Add the mint leaves and press them lightly with a spoon — you want to seduce the oil from the mint leaves, not beat it out of them. Add the bourbon, fill the glass with cracked ice, and stir. Plant the mint sprig in the ice alongside a short straw, and serve.
Yield: 1 serving