You see, after much experimenting with this venerable drink, I must say that the advice given below from the Old Waldorf Bar Days has allowed for the most enjoyable results in my opinion.
Patrons who ordered one of Johnnie Salon's world famous Mint Juleps, knew to wait at least 30 minutes after ordering before returning to collect their treasure.
|1931 - From Old Waldorf Bar Days|
2 ounces (60 ml) bourbon (Kentucky straight bourbon, best you have)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) simple syrup
Fresh mint (spearmint)
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters (optional)
2) In a separate mixing glass, add 2 teaspoons of (preferably a rich) simple syrup, 6-12 young, tender mint leaves from the top of the sprig, and if desired the Angostura bitters (go for it!).
3) Gently bruise the mint with a muddler and blend the ingredients by stirring and pressing for a minute or two being careful not to crush the leaves, which will release bitter inner juices.
4) Add the bourbon to the mixing glass, stir again and set aside.
5) Smash your ice to the consistency of snow in your lewis bag. Remove any chunks.
6) Pack your julep cup or chilled glass full of crushed ice and strain the contents of your mixing glass over the ice.
7) Insert a long bar spoon into the glass, cover the cup with a napkin or clean towel, and vigorously churn the contents of the glass up and down for about a minute. (Alternatively, it's great time to break out that bois lélé). Add more ice and fill to about 1/4" from the top with bourbon and repeat the churning process until the glass starts to frost.
8) Add 2 straws and fresh ice, then set the cup aside to "mellow" for at least 30 minutes. If you will be waiting longer than 30 minutes, place the glass in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours to chill.
(To pass the time, read the rest of this post or something else on my blog!)
9) When you are ready to drink, remove the glass, being careful to hold by the top or bottom rim so as not to disturb the frost. If taking out of the refrigerator, let it sit for 5-10 minutes to add an extra layer of frost. Take a nice big spring of mint, and whack it into your open palm a few times to release the fragrant oils. Cut the ends off the mint spring's stems and insert the mint into the middle of the drink so that the drinker's nose is close to the mint when they sip from the straw.
John Milton 1608-1674
Excerpt from Comus as printed in an 1864 book on Milton's works compiled by David Masson
Portrait of Elizabeth Montagu in 1745
The cobbler and the julep introduced "American Iced Drinks" to the world.
Clark designed his three major stakes races, the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Clark Handicap, after the three premier races in England, the Epsom Derby, Epsom Oaks, and St. Leger Stakes respectively.
The original steeples at Churchill Downs remain, but are dwarfed by the numerous additions over the years.
It is possible that it was created that early, but I think it most likely that it would have been created as a beaker design, as the wealthy that could afford such pieces were not commonly drinking "juleps" in 1795.
Asa Blanchard was also a dominant silversmith in the area, but he worked from 1808-1838.
So while he was known for making julep cups among other things, if it was actually a known Kentucky silversmith that originated this design, and providing that 1795 was the correct date, it would more have likely been Mr. Ayres that came up with the "original design" for the julep cup.
Pre-Civil War cups are rare. Cups made earlier than the 1850's that I have been able to locate were either plain beakers or were adorned with straight lines at the top and bottom, not the beaded design attributed to the "1795 original".
The mint julep's link to the Kentucky Derby likely began as a matter of timing and convenience. Mint grew abundantly in the area, and bourbon - well, this was Kentucky - bourbon was of course readily available. So when the racetrack opened in 1875 mint juleps, being the popular drink of the day, were already being offered in the racetrack's clubhouse.
Thousands of mint juleps are still served every year at the Derby, held each year on the first Saturday in May, and at Derby parties around the nation.
One of three 2011 Tiffany & Co. "Prestige Cups" in 24 karat gold, bidding started at $2,000 for these.
The 2011 Derby silver julep cup by Tiffany & Co, 100 were made to be sold at $1000 each.
1871 - E. Ricket & C. Thomas' Gentleman's table guide
1884 - O.H. Byron The Modern Bartender's Guide
1892 - William Schmidt The Flowing Bowl
1895- George Kappeler Modern American Drinks
1895 - C.F. Lawlor The Mixicologist
1902 - Charlie Paul American and Other Iced Drinks
1916 - Hugo R. Ensslin Recipes for Mixed Drinks
1917 - Thomas Bullock The Ideal Bartender
1922 - Robert Vermeire Cocktails How to Mix Them
1927- Harry McElhone Barflies and Cocktails
1931 - Crockett Old Waldorf Bar Days
1936 - Frank Meier The Artistry of Mixing Drinks
Let's check in with the good Mr. Embruy before we move on. As you may imagine, he had plenty to say on the matter.
In the whole category of drinks there is probably none that is more delicious and certainly none that has caused more violent disagreement and acrimonious debate than the Mint Julep. Should the mint be bruised or not bruised? Should it be left in the glass or removed? Should it be blended with the whisky or should it be used merely as decoration on the top of the glass? Should the drink be served with straws or not? Should it be decorated with fruit or not? If you are interested in these or other similar details about the Julep, I suggest you write to the National Distillers Product Corporation, New York City, for their excellent little booklet on Mint Juleps. If it is not out of print (it was copyrighted in 1939), I am sure they will be glad to send you a copy.
I have, in all, probably some thirty or forty different recipes for Juleps, some good, some bad, some indifferent. I shall give you just three-my own and two others I consider excellent. It takes two hours or more advance notice to prepare the latter. The other is for those who like only a mild mint flavor. First of all, however, there are certain cardinal principals to be observed, no matter what recipe you follow, if you want to turn out a julep that is really good and that is attractively frosted.
1. Use very tall 14- or 16-ounce containers, whether of glass or of silver. Silver mugs are best because they frost better than glass, and mugs with handles-are best because they keep the warm hand from coming in contact with the outer surface of the container, thus melting the frost. If glasses are used, the thinner the glass, the better. It is well to serve paper napkins with which to handle the glasses, thereby insulating them to some extent from the warm hand. Also serve saucers or large coasters in which to set the glasses or mugs, for some of the frost will always melt and drip.
2. Unless the drink itself if to be chilled in the refrigerator, thoroughly pre-chill the glasses by leaving them in the refrigerator as close as possible to the freezing compartment for at least a half-hour. When filling the glasses, wear wool gloves or wrap the glass in a clean dry towel to keep the warm hand from coming in contact with the glass.
3. Use only fresh mint and (except as a garnish) only the small, tender leaves at the end of each sprig. Discard all stems and all the old and large leaves.
4. Use only the best-quality bourbon-the older the better. If you want to make a Rye Julep, or a Gin Julep, or a Brandy Julep, or an Applejack Julep, well and good, but you will be on your own. I am not a Kentucky colonel-in fact, I have been in Kentucky only once-but I am firmly convinced that all other Juleps are only inferior imitations of those made with good Kentucky bourbon.
5. Use sugar syrup, not dry sugar. It not only saves time but it blends with the liquor as dry sugar and water never can.
6. For the garnish use nothing but tender, young springs of mint. Rinse them well in cold water, dry with a clean towel, and while still slightly moist, dip in powdered sugar. Clip off the end of each stem just before immersing in the drink, thus allowing the juice to bleed into the liquor.
7. Use shaved or finely crushed ice-not merely cracked ice. If you have a mechanical crusher-such as the Dazey-set it for the finest crush. If you use a canvas bag and mallet, pound until the ice is like snow. Discard all the lumps.
With these warnings and advance preparations, proceed with the actual preparation of your Juleps as below indicated. No.1 is my own favorite; No.2 the time consumer; No.3 is the one with just a faint mint flavor.
JULEP NO.1 In a bar glass place, for each drink, 1 tablespoonful of sugar syrup, about a dozen tender young mint leaves, and 2 or 3 good dashes of Angostura. If you don't like bitters, leave them out, but, in my opinion, they add enormously to the character of the drink. Bruise the mint gently with a muddler and blend the ingredients by stirring and pressing gently for several minutes. Do not crush the leaves, for this releases the bitter, inner juices. Pour about 2 ounces of bourbon for each drink into the bar glass and stir all thoroughly together.
Remove the Julep glasses from the refrigerator, pack them with crushed ice (don't let the bare hands touch the glasses) and strain the contents of the bar glass into them. With a long bar spoon churn the contents of the glasses up and down for a few minutes. Add more ice and fill each glass to within 3/8" to 1/4" of the top with bourbon and repeat the churning process until the glass starts to frost.
Insert long straws in the glasses, decorate with the sugared mint sprigs, and serve.
The glasses may be returned to the refrigerator after the drinks are mixed if so desired, but this is not necessary. If they are returned, insert the straws but do not add the garnish until the moment of serving. The dry cold of the refrigerator will wilt the mint sprigs if they have been added. Also it may freeze the ice into a solid mass, making it difficult or impossible to insert the straws later.
JULEP NO.2 Prepare the mint, sugar, Angostura mixture as in No.1, but do not add the bourbon. Pour half the mixture in the bottom of the Julep glass. Half fill the glass with crushed ice, firmly packed down. Add the balance of the mint mixture and fill the glass to the top with ice. Insert straws and place the glass in the refrigerator as close as possible to the freezing compartment. Leave in there for at least an hour.
Remove the glass from the refrigerator (insulated hands again) and gently pour into it all the bourbon it will hold up to about 1/4" from the top. Return to the refrigerator for at least another hour, then remove, add garnish, and serve.
JULEP NO.3 Pre-chill the glasses. In the bottom of each glass place a tablespoonful of sugar syrup and, if desired, stir in a few dashed of Angostura.
Distribute three or four small sprigs (not just the leaves) of mint over the bottom of the glass but do not bruise or crush. Pack the glass full with crushed ice and fill with bourbon to within about an inch of the top. Churn with a long spoon to settle the ice and begin the frosting process. Refill with ice, add enough bourbon to bring to desired height, and insert the straws.
Place drinks in refrigerator for at least 5 or 10 minutes (a half an hour is better, add garnish, and serve.
One of the greatly disputed points about Juleps is whether or not to float a spoonful of rum on the top of each drink. To your true Kentucky colonel, this is rank heresy. It does, however, add an exotic touch which many like. I like Juleps either with or without the rum, but if you do use rum, use only a good Jamaica rum at least 8 years old and use not more than 1 teaspoonful.
I will also make one single concession to my role of "nothing but bonded bourbon" for a Julep. Southern Comfort, which, of course, has a bourbon base, makes an excellent Julep. The ladies, in particular, will like it better than one made with straight bourbon.
If any of your teetotaler friends attend your Julep party I fear you will have to serve them plain ice water. I know of no prohibition variety of the Julep.
Lots to say indeed! What wonderful advice too, David Embury really knew his stuff.
I love the teetotaler friend comment. Totally extraneous, and rich with Embury's dry humor.
A few notes on his details. The Southern Comfort of his day was a much different product. It was actually good! Made with a base of real bonded bourbon, it was a 100 proof liquor made with a special blend of flavoring agents and sweeteners. Some say it was a blend of bourbon and peach brandy, but I've not found anything yet in print about that. If it was blended with peach brandy, it would have been an aged eau de vie brandy, which has become extinct at this point.
All in all, it is hard to fault any of his advice or methods. Paying close attention to the finer points of preparation and serving he has presented does pay off in the end result.
David has provided us with a very complete and accurate entry on the mint julep. As you probably noticed, I lifted many points from his instruction to create my own recommended recipe. If you are in a hurry to make a mint julep, his "NO.1 JULEP" is absolutely the way to go.
Did you make your julep in a glass because you did not have a julep cup? That no doubt worked, but a real, silver plated julep cup is worth picking up.
No need to shell out $600 and up for a solid silver cup. If you want, you can get good results with a nickel plated cup, as long as you do not have a silver cup sitting next to it to make it look bad that is!
|Cocktail Kingdom's silver plated cup on the left, KegWorks nickel plated on the right.|
Cocktail Kingdom just got in their silver plated cups and there is no better deal on the net. At $24.95 each, they are a ridiculously good buy. They also have a nickel plated option coming soon.
Kegworks offers a good quality nickel plated brass cup for $18.75, though I hear Cocktail Kingdom's price will be lower and the quality should be slightly higher.
A few more plugs for CK's available tools. The Cocktail Kingdom muddler and their new julep strainers.
Their "Bad Ass Muddler" is just that, this thing is a beast and makes muddling anything so much easier. It has nearly weapon like heft and balance, is made of (very) heavy duty food grade plastic - and at only $12.95, it is a bargain that should last you a lifetime.
Their new julep strainers are also exceptional good and noteworthy. Using their ample library of vintage barware, every julep strainer in their collection was evaluated to find the perfect shape.
After painstakingly making sure that the mold was just right, they produced the strainer in 4 finishes, gold plated, silver plated, and in stainless steel with a matte finish and a mirrored finish. The stainless run $10.95, the silver plate is $15.95 and the gold plated runs $21.95....wow!
Wait, what about that julep strainer? Most juleps were not strained right? Do you need a julep strainer to make a julep? Well, no actually, you do not. They are great to use in any drink though and it seemed fitting to mention here, but you do not need one to make a julep.
When you make your base and muddle the mint into the simple syrup, many prefer to leave the mint in the mix so it can continue to impart flavor.
Why do they call it a julep strainer then?
In the 1820's when the iced version of the drink was first introduced, the public's dental health was not what it is today.
When a drink was served to a customer, the strainer was often left in the drink. This was to keep the ice from hitting the customer's often very sensitive teeth.
Juleps were one of the very first, if not the very first, of the iced drinks to gain worldwide popularity. So it was also a bit like calling it a "martini strainer".
The sherry cobbler, with its need to be shaken, came along around the same time or shortly after, and eventually brought along with it the popularization of the new cobbler shaker. More importantly however, the popularity of the drinking straw.
The drinking straw eliminated the need to leave the customer with the strainer, but by then the nickname had stuck and this, the original strainer design became known as the julep strainer. (The "Hawthorne" strainer design would not come about until 1889, even then, the patent application called it a julep strainer.)