Here´s for cheering twice! both the Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo happens to be on may 5th this year.
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage to commemorate the French army’s defeat at the hands of the Mexicans at Puebla by the end of the 1900s. And with that goes cheering with tequila. The Derby Day is as we know – a day of never ending mint juleps – and since both are on the same day this year- why not try a new thing and make a tequila julep?
In any case i have been thinking about that ice cold julep for a while…but i have never meade one with tequila. That feels quite refreshing – and i have already posted other juleps here – see links at the bottom) so tequila julep it is this time!
Now one thing with the julep – it´s a boozy drink but with all the crushed or shaved ice it dilutes fast and so therefore you better try to use a spirit with a little bit of a higher proof to keep that kick in the flavor. At the same time the dilution is necessary to make the drink palatable and refreshing – and that´s the whole point with the julep – it´s supposed to be a refreshener in the summer heat.
And thank God i have a Lewis bag…and maybe i should thank the Tales too bec that`s from where i got it last year. With it i made some fairly finely crushed ice by first crushing it in my ice-crusher (hand cranked variety…) and then i scooped it all into the bag and did beat the hell outta it and the result was a quite finely powdered ice – perfect!
Unfortunatley i would have needed more since i made 2 drinks so i had to top it up with normal crushed ice because at that point i wasn´t in for hammering more. And when i mention hammering…i hope one day to find a real big wooden mallet, like this one. Right now i`m using a huge wooden mortar and it works alright but a huge wooden mallet would be even better and they are cool too..
So here`s the recipe:
0.5 oz sugarcane syrup in a glass or julep cup
Add mint (6-8 leaves) and muddle very lightly, only lightly bruising them to get the oil out – not too hard because then you will release bitter stuff.
Fill up half with finely crushed ice and add your tequila of choice – i took 2 oz of a tequila reposado.
Now stir, add more ice and stir again until the glass is well frosted and heap plenty of ice on top! Garnish with a nice sprig of mint – and don´t forget to slap it to release the fragrance in the air.
And then….sip and dream…
With tequila the julep was alright but i think it´s much better with a strong bourbon – but as this is a special occasion i enjoy my tequila julep!
It´s julep time and i`m not going to pass the opportunity to post a mint julep on Derby Day! few things are bettter than sipping slowly on a cold mint julep..especially if i s a hot day.
Since i did post a classical julep last year i`m gonna mix up a variation this year using my favorite chocolate spirit Mozart Dry which i can just feel will be very tasty in a julep. I`m into a chocolate craze for the moment and cannot have enough of Mozart Dry and chocolate mint combined.
I did a chocolate Mai Tai a while ago and now i s a chocolate Julep, not sure what comes next if anything but that will show.
This isn´t going to be a long post since i wrote about the history of the julep and the original recipe etc before and you can read it here and besides there´s tons of info out there about the mint julep and the Kentucky derby day which takes place every first saturday in may.
What interest me the most since i`ve never been to any derby and i`ve never been into horse racing either is of course the julep! that is something i can relate to – and i think its a very fine tradition.
2.5 oz Bourbon (Using Maker´s Mark)
0.5 oz sugar syrup
0.25 oz Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit
Plenty of mint leaves, or a handful – i used chocolate mint to pair with the chocolate flavor in this julep.
Lightly muddle mint and sugar syrup together in a julep cup, don´t muddle too hard since that will bring out bitterness from the leaves. When done muddling add Bourbon. Add shaved or crushed ice and stir drink gently until a frost forms on the outside of the cup. Ah…this is lovely!
Then top off with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.
As usual Mozart Dry doesn´t disappoint, it adds a subtle hint of very fine chocolate which in no way overpowers the drink, instead it blends well with sugarcane syrup and bourbon and stays in the bacground, it`s simply awesome.
I`m not sure i can stick with just one here. This is a wonderful way to start a saturday! of course i had to make me another later on but that one i made in a glass since i also like the color of the spirit, syrup and ice in a julep, it looks so tasty.
Also i added 0.25 oz of Navan vanilla liqueur to go with the chocolate and took down the sugarcane syrup from 0.5 to 0.25 oz. So 0.25 oz each of sugarcane syrup, Mozart Dry chocolate spirit and Navan.
Chocolate and Vanilla Julep
Not a big difference, the vanilla added some very slight softening notes to the chocolate and as chocolate and vanilla goes hand in hand it was good. Now the Mozart Dry actually does contain some vanilla as well but the result of adding a little Navan didn´t make it overpowering in any way.
I have no doubt that that is because the Mozart Dry is a very high quality chocolate spirit that is dry and crisp with a very fine chocolate flavor which makes me think about very dark chocolate – and it´s not so sweet and also Navan is a very fine liqueur made with natural vanilla beans from Madagascar.
Then also there wasn`t much added – only 0.25 oz of each. Overall the chocolate and vanilla flavors in these two mint juleps were subtle and didn´t change the “julep flavor” which is what i wanted.
”Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like old Bourbon whiskey”
The whole recitation that is a part of the very special way the Mint julep is made by Chris Mac Millan can be read and seen on video here.
One of the seminars that interest me very much at this years Tales of the Cocktail is the Julep Story from 1488 to Present.
This seminar is held by spirits historians Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown who have traced the julep all the way back to the 15th century and also they are going to show us Julep recipes from London, Edinburgh, and Dublin that feature some amazing so called “lost” ingredients and we will be shown how the recipe was simplified to become the recipe we know today. That is something i didn`t know – that the recipe was simplified, so i`m looking forward to find out how.
The Mint Julep is such a quintessential southern cocktail with a very interesting history which I´m sure we will learn more about than we already know at this seminar.
Today its the mint day! if you wonder what the mint day is – you can read about it here.
As it happens the BoozeFairy did time it well and came with Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon just when i got the first of this years fragrant Moroccan mint from the market.
So then tht is perfect for making a Sweet Tea Julep – i know i just posted about the Mint Julep – but the way i see it – you cannot have too many!
But first i`m gonna tell you about Firefly`s latest addition, the Sweet Tea Bourbon.
Its made with straight bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery and the bourbon is infused with South Carolina sweet tea and cane sugar from Louisiana. The result is a sweet bourbon with a hint of tea flavor – Interesting.
As this bourbon is so sweet already there`s no need to sweeten the drink with any other sugar or syrup, and i actually used only 1 oz of this and 2 oz of another bourbon to tone down the sweetness.
I see this bourbon more as a drink ingredient than a base spirit because of its sweetness, you can only use a little.
And here`s the drink:
SWEET TEA JULEP
1 oz Firefly Sweet tea Bourbon
2 oz Bourbon of choice ( i used Wild Turkey 101)
8-10 mint leaves
Crushed or shaved ice
Put mint and a small amount of crushed or shaved ice into the bottom of a julep cup or tall glass. (Optional: Muddle the mint and bourbon, then let stand for a bit to allow the broken leaves to release their flavor.)
Add the two bourbons, top off with crushed or shaved ice, and stir well to mix and chill the mixture. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
The mint julep isn`t original to New Orleans though, but imported from the southern states where it was developed. Nevertheless it has become a very important New Orleanian Cocktail.
Without doubt, a good Mint Julep is a true Southern pleasure. On the first saturday in may is the Kentucky Derby Day and julpes are served around the US and bourbon is the spirit used.
The Julep wasn`t originally invented in the US though – it was actually invented very far away – many centuries ago in Persia. It might be even older than that, i`ve read that it dates back even to A.D 1400.
Water and rose petals made a refreshingly scented Arabic drink called julab. This drink was later introduced to the countries around the Mèditerranian sea and the rose petals was replaced by mint which was a plant indigenous to the area. The drink changed its name to mint julep and became very popular in Europe. It was most commonly used in the eastern parts as a morning drink among the farmers.
Water and mint = julep. How could that become an American Bourbon drink?
The way to the mint julep as we know it today is both long and colorful. Originating in Persia, drunk in various forms in Europe and without doubt developed in the US – the addition of American whiskey did dramatically change the recipe.
But the first julep drinks in America were probably not made with bourbon but rather rye or other available spirits of that time like rum. Its believed that the drinking of the julep started in the US somewhere on the southern and east coast around the 1700s.
The first reference of a non medical type of mint julep in 1833 states: Put 4 to 5 unbruised mint stalks into a tumbler, on them place a lump of ice, add brandy water and sugar.This was a recipe identical to a drink called mint sling and it was the first time brandy was used in this drink which was referred to as a morning drink at the time.
Early juleps contained even fresh pineapple that was rubbed around the rim of the glass, then Claret or Madeira was added. The beverage were supposed to be of southern origin and the way of preparing seemed to have been varied among the states. There were also many different varietes of juleps made and were both stirred and shaken – look at these for example:
In 1846 fresh mint, equal parts brandy and rum, sugar and thinly plained ice was shaken in two tumblers. In 1852 another julep called cocoa-nut julep (!) was made with water from the young green coconuts that was poured into a glass goblet holding at least half a gallon and to this is added the coconut jelly…sweetened with sugar and Holland gin..aka Genever. There even appeared juleps garnished with strawberries in 1853…and in juleps have been used both bananas, raspberry juice and cucumbers.
In 1856 a gentleman in Louisiana placed side by side two large tumblers. In one he putted a spoonful of white crushed sugar. Then a slice of lemon and a slice of orange and then a few sprigs of fresh mint. Then a handful of crushed ice, a little water and finally a large glass measure of cognac.When this was done he lifted the glasses in each hand and poured from to another and back.
Then a fresh piece of a pineapple was cut and swept around the rim around the glass.The pineapple cleared the glass from sugar and pieces of mint and added a sweet fragrant aroma on the glass. This was called “The latest New Orleans touch 😉
I`m not sure when silver pitchers first were used but around 1901 it was spoken of as the only way to make a real julep. At around the same time the leaves of the mint were stripped off the stems one by one as the stems are bitter. The leaves were steeped in whiskey over night.
The cup was filled to the brim with ice and a small lump of sugar was mixed with as little water as possible. The leaves were strained off from the whiskey and the water and sugar mixture added. Now the drink was stirred and finally a sprig of mint added on top of the ice. Probably this was the first mint julep similar to the julep as we know it.
The good thing with using the julep cup is that it chills the drink and makes the frost appear faster and its also very nice to look at if you ask me.
The first uses of Bourbon came around in 1933 when cold spring water was first mixed with sugar. Then in a separate glass the mint was crushed within the glass with a spoon and then mint was discarded as a sacrifice. The glass was filled with cracked ice and bourbon poured in the glass. The mixture was left to cool for a while before sugared water was poured over it. No stirring was allowed. It was set to stand for a moment before finally fresh sprigs of mint were placed around the brim.
The Mint Julep became Churchill Down’s signature drink in 1938 when they started to serve the julep in sourvenir glasses for 75 cents a drink. Today Kentucky Derby serves more than 80,000 juleps over the two-day event.
I love the julep! its refreshing and its tasty. There are many different juleps..and many ways to prepare them and here´s one:
Bourbon, Water, Sugar (or simple syrup) and Mint – is all you need.
1 Tbsp. simple syrup (or use fine sugar and water)
2 oz. bourbon
6–7 fresh mint leaves (and a mint sprig for garnish)
I can sure haz me some julep! and here`s the famous video again with Chris McMillan, showing you how to make a proper julep while reciting a wonderful poem – well worth watching:
I have waited since the last vegetable markets closed down in the early fall. Since then i have had to live with those tiny under-light grown thin plants called mint – But its to me not real mint. Oh no..because real mint has much more fragrance. Not a little shy fragrance – it has a bold fragrance.
When i buy the mint from Morocco they sell it in large bunches at the outdoor markets during the summer it smells up the whole bus on the way home.These leaves needs not much spanking if any at all, and they takes up a major space too,well – that´s mint!
Thick and sturdy plants with lots of leaves that has a good texture and brilliant green color, not these tiny little plants, light faint green with a good spacing between the leaves due to poor light.
Oh finally! So i have been waiting! Ok, the greenhouse mint is better than no mint at all, i`m thankful i have some mint during the winter, but i`m happy the real thing is here again and it’s a pity it can´t be frozen successfully. I would have stocked up like i did with all the cherries i steeped in jars with maraschino liqueur and brandy – they have lasted me the whole winter and spring. What a nice feeling, now i don´t have to even look at the supermarket mints until the fall.
Ok, its not that much mint available yet, its still early – just wait until july..but its real mint! and i`m overjoyed.So the fact that the mint is back needs to be celebrated with a drink – a real minty cocktail, a julep – a fig julep – worthy to carry a decent crown of fresh fragrant mint with dignity.
From now on i will always celebrate the MINT DAY here on my blog, not on a set date but the first day after the winter when i find the real mint is back again.
So come on folks, celebrate the mint day with me and make yourself a fig julep or other minty drink!
8-10 torn mint leaves and sprigs for garnish
2 tsp fig marmalade
3 oz Bourbon
Garnish mint and figs
Muddle fig marmalade and mint in a 10 oz. tall glass.Add crushed ice. Add Bourbon and stir until frost appears on outside of glass. Garnish with mint sprigs and 2 quartered figs.