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Thread: Mint Julep

  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    Personal experience, mostly, having drunk the julep both ways.

    History comes into it in that most times I have read accounts of people drinking juleps they make a toast and drink them down. They don't sip on them for an hour. That is probably what gave me the idea. There had to be an answer, because I couldn't imagine that Kentuckians would invent such a crappy drink.

    Also, when you think about the accoutrements--crushed ice, metal glass--it's clear that the idea is to chill the liquor quickly, which also leads to dilution if you don't drink it right away.

  2. #12
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    Gerald Carson (Social History of Bourbon) includes a long encomium to the mint julep by a Kentucky lawyer, Judge Soule Smith, which Carson calls, "one of the great set pieces of Southern eloquence". Part of the quote:

    "When it is made, sip it slowly. August suns are shining, the breath of the south wind is upon you. It is fragrant, cold, sweet - it is seductive. No maiden's kiss is more tenderer or more refreshing; no maiden's touch could be more passionate [this clearly before the era of love and sex being viewed as "hot"]. Sip it and dream, you cannot dream amiss. Sip it and dream, it is a dream itself... Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like Old Bourbon".

    Clearly here we have a devotee of the slow sipping school. We should remember that when Smith wrote, bourbon (or such as he drank) was 100 proof at least, and while some decay of flavour would be expected in a sipped drink, it would hold its own. I have said many times on this board that the mint julep may have endured because it reminded Kentucky palates of the whiskey they knew and their ancestors knew in Pennsylvania - straight rye whiskey that is, which has the mint taste built in. Conversely, a high corn recipe has little of any mint taste so once Kentucky experimented by adding wild mint to their drink (probably initially for colour, emulating perhaps the effect of borage in old English mixtures) the similarity to Old Monongahela may have been noticed and people stuck with it. And so Smith rhapsodises on the mint:

    "By the brookside the mint grows. As the little wavelets pass they glide up to kiss the feet of the the growing mint, the mint bends to salute them. Gracious and kind it is, living only for the sake of others. ... When the Blue Grass begins to shoot its gentle sprays towards the sun, mint comes, and its sweetest soul drinks at the crystal brook. It is virgin then. But soon it must be married to Old Bourbon. His great heart, his warmth of temperament, and that affinity which no one understands [save fellow barrister Gary Gillman, but he came later], demand the wedding. How shall it be?" [whence follows the encomiast's personal recipe].

    Gary

  3. #13
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    I've always had them with peppermint myself.

    It's difficult to find the "one true julep" because the recipe kept changing. For instane, before the days of ice and bourbon the julep was made with water and rum.

  4. #14
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    How shall it be?" [whence follows the encomiast's personal recipe].
    And the recipe was?

  5. #15
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    And the recipe was?
    How shall it be? Take from the cold spring some water, pure as angel's are; mix it with sugar till it seems like oil. Then take a glass and crush your mint within it with a spoon--crush it around the borders of the glass and leave no place untouched. Then throw the mint away--it is a sacrafice. Fill with cracked ice the glass; pour in the quantity of Bourbon which you want. It trickles slowly through the ice. Let it have time to cool, then pour your sugared water over it. No spoon is needed; no stirring allowed--just let it stand a moment. Then around the rim place sprigs of mint, so that the one who drinks may find taste and odor at one draft. Then when it is made, sip it slowly.

    formula of Judge J. Soule Smith--as retold in Irvin S. Cobb's recipe book of 1936

  6. #16
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    Originally it was wild mint as discussed. The use of peppermint sprigs was considered sacrilegious.

  7. #17
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Mint Julep-Yes! But what mint?

    Judge Soule Smith knew his way around the English language - and a thing or two about whiskey and its accoutrements, didn't he?

    Gary

  8. #18
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    Re: The 4 Mint Shootout

    Last night we conducted a controlled experiment involving mints, whiskey, and sugar water. To wit - the Mint Julep.

    Four drinks were prepared, with 2 independent variables and proportions to taste, so no ironclad conclusions could be reached.

    Method:
    1-Pour hooch over ice in Penguin Shaker (photo exhibit 1):
    2-Bruise and tear mint, toss into small bowl;
    3-Add desired amount of simple syrup to bowl, allow mint to saturate with syrup for a moment, until leaves darken;
    4-Pour syrup into Penguin and shake the bejeesus out of the mixture (savor mental picture of covera rt of Cars "Shake it Up" album
    5-Strain over freshly crushed ice into glasses
    6-Garnish with big sprig o'mint

    Drink 1:
    Michter's US1 Rye
    Apple Mint
    simple syrup

    The apple mint complemented the spicy rye with fruity, well...apple-y aromas. The sugar added thickness and foundation to the otherwise thin drink.

    Verdict: Fresh and exciting, a party starter

    Drink 2:
    Sunny Brook (early '80s ND)
    Chocolate Mint
    simple syrup

    This bourbon is great for its thick, smooth flavor without heat or overly much spice. This allowed the delicate chocolate notes to dominate the aroma, and the flavor to be "rich and thick and chocolate" (as the bunny used to say). Strangely, the aroma from a distance was very chocolatey (said our non-drinker from the next spot on the couch), but the nose-in-glass aroma was very minty.

    Verdict: A long, smooth sipper. The antithesis of the choke-it-down shooter of which Chuck talks.

    Drink 3:
    Weller Antique 107
    Pepper Mint
    simple syrup

    This drink didn't marry as well as 1 and 2. I had thought that the body and the sharp, but quickly fading heat and spice of the Antique would give an early bourbon-dominated flavor that would mellow to a lingering winterfresh Pepper Mint finish, but the panel thought that the mint dominated and left the marriage behind.

    Verdict: Pleasant and lasting, but not sorted out fully.

    Drink 4:
    Old Grand-Dad 114
    Spear Mint
    simple syrup

    This was the simple, straight-ahead julep of the group. Grand-Dad supplied the bold attack for which bourbon is legendary, and the spearmint has the standard flavor of mint. It was hella strong, though, and required some water addition and ice-melt time from one taster.

    Verdict: The shooter of the bunch, and a bracing one at that.

    Conclusion:
    My high school science teacher taught that the conclusion of all research papers should be the opening pitch for funding of the next study. Therefore:

    Preliminary results point towards the mint julep being a versatile cocktail that can be tailored to deliver many pleasing experiences, from quick, bracing toasts, to long, soothing sippers. However, any conclusions reached in this study require verification with further research.

    Roger - Research is Cool! - Hodges
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #19
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    And here's a mint julep you can sample at this year's Derby... ; ))
    Cheers,
    Omar

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...x.html?cnn=yes

  10. #20
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    Mint Julep

    This url should go to an online article about $1000 mint juleps for sale at the Kentucky Derby - apparently made with Woodford Reserve.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...x.html?cnn=yes

    Craig

 

 

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