Sunday, May 3, 2009

Derby Delicousness

I've never been big on the Kentucky Derby. It wasn't until I was in college that I understood what it was and why it was so important. (I may be playing a little fast and loose with the word 'important'.)

After a little research, I became fascinated with the idea of a Mint Julep. I thought they sounded delicious, so this year I decided that I was out to make one for myself. After looking around online and comparing recipes I came up with one of my own.

These can be quite strong if you don't mix well. You can certainly decrease the amount of bourbon in the recipe, but after such a long winter...why?

Mint Julep
(Serves 1)

Simple syrup
6-8 mint leaves
1 T. superfine sugar
Crushed ice
2 1/2 oz. bourbon
1 sprig mint, for garnish

Make a simple syrup using a 1:1 ratio; 1 c. granulated sugar, 1 c. water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Cool.

Place mint leaves in bottom of a glass. Add sugar. Using the bottom of a wooden spoon or other blunt instrument, muddle the leaves and sugar together. This extracts the flavor and oils from the mint.

Pour in ice, then add bourbon. Top with a dash of simple syrup. Gently stir together to disolve sugar, no more than a few gentle turns of the spoon. Garnish with mint. Serve. Enjoy. Wear a pretty hat.

  • Bourbon is not for the faint of heart. Mix well or you'll be drunk in no time, especially if you're a lightweight.
  • Superfine sugar is impossible to find in my local grocery stores, and I'm not gonna haul my cookies to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in the suburbs or Lincoln Park to get a few tablespoons worth. I threw a cup of granulated sugar in the food processor and let it whiz around for a minute. Ta da! Easy peasy.
  • Superfine sugar dissolves more easily than regular sugar, and it definitely makes a difference in the quality and sugary-mintyness of the whole drink.
  • We drink a lot of beer and wine around here. We don't have any highballs or Tom Collins glasses. Someday when we have a bar I'm sure we'll invest in a few glasses, but for now I served them in a set of striped tumblers I got in an antique shop. My grandmother had a set of these same glasses when I was a kid, and they're from the 1940s or 1950s. Pretty indestructible. Don't judge. If you don't like my glasses, buy me some new ones!

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