How to make the perfect Mint Julep
It is writen opposite the title page in my leather bound 1946 addition of The Gentleman's Companion that "The Mint Julep is one of mankind's truly civilized inventions." I tend to agree.
I will quote the recipe in said volume verbatim complete with spelling errors. It is the only one I have seen that specifies using red-stemmed mint which I have found is in fact superior.
The "instructions" follow 3 pages of diatribe about the various debates, stories, and folklore surounding the drink. Such as the fact that in 1926 the only place that still had the finest bourbon was Manila. Or "...No sane Kentucky planter, in full possession of his faculties will yield an inch to any Marylander when it comes to admitting rye is superior to bourbon in a Julep, when actually, a Julep is international and has been international for years --just as the matters of radio and flying are international."
On with the nuts and bolts:
- Chill glasses, whether silver cups or otherwise.
- Use glasses of sixteen ounce capacity.
- Use two and a half jiggers of likker for sixteen ounce glass, two for fourteen ounce.
- Use red-stemmed mint, simply because red-stemmed mint is more pleasantly aromatic. Use fresh mint, and cut stems short just before putting in as final garnish --to make them bleed.
- Don't bruise that first installment of tender mint leaves more than very slightly. The inner leaf juices are bitter and cannot have profitable flavour. Bruise one between the teeth, then chew it up and find out.
- Don't expect to get a wacking good Julep out of six months old "bourbon" or "rye." We can't.
- Don't use coarse ice, use finely cracked ice --very fine.
- Don't over-garnish with sliced orange and random fruits. With Juleps, and in fact any drink of delicate quality in its own right, don't add anything with a different strong scent -and orange, lemon, and certain other fruits have a very potent aroma. . . . The aroma of a bourbon Julep should be bourbon and mint -not bourbon, mind, and a fruit store. Garnish simply without trying to gild the lily. A julep is more than a mere chilled liquid; it is a tradition which is to be respected. The mint itself is a delight to the eye, just as we admire parsley against a fine red snapper, or permit feminine associates the use of red nail polish, or grace a mother's table with flowers. So let the Julep feast the eye and nostril properly -not supply unending, edible diversions from the main theme. We don't need to eat all the trimmings, after all -but we always do! . . . That is why ripe pineapple is so beneficial -and eaten after the julep is gone, the marinated fruit is delicious.
- Take care that all sugar is worked into syrup before ice and liquor are put in. Reason: If sugar is left in granular form, when chilled the dissolving process is radically slowed down. Especially when sipping through a straw you will suddenly find yourself inhaling a furiously saccharine slug which will ruin the memory of the lovely drink just preceding this disastrous end. . . . This is why we personally use gomme, or bar, syrup for all juleps. Mint leaves stick to the glass' inner walls even better than with the sugar-water mix. One final stir before garnish goes in distributes this quickly disolved syrup evenly through the entire drink. Ergo. . .
(at this point there are 8 different recipes listed all with slight variations so I will proceed with a abreviated and collated version of instructions.)
Toss 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in the glass, then drop in 6 mint tips and muddle slightly taking care to coat the glass with the oils.
Fill glass halfway with your finely cracked ice.
Add s few more sprigs of slightly bruised mint.
Fill with ice. pour in bourbon. Do not stir, wisely let nature take it's coarse.
Garnish with mint sprigs, and two small straws. Allow the glass to become frosted before serving.
And that my friends, is worth the wait. Enjoy!