Before mojitos, there were mint juleps. Get over it, Miami. Drink one today - for the Derby - and if you're of a mind, think of the early Virginians, who used to drink these for breakfast. My kind of people!
Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve bourbon, gives the best explanation for why this classic recipe works when it's built in the glass and sipped through a mandatory short straw.
Note: I use Maker's Mark, but do use a good Kentucky bourbon and not swill. It's all about the bourbon, with just that hint of mint.
Mint Julep Recipe
• 1 level teaspoon of confectioner's sugar
• 2 to 3 fresh mint leaves.
• Woodford Reserve bourbon or other quality Kentucky bourbon
Put sugar and mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup (traditional ones are sterling silver). Add about 1/4 teaspoon bourbon. Some recipes call for water, Morris says, but why dillute the drink -- just start with the bourbon.
Muddle together, working the leaves till it's a green sugary paste in the bottom of the cup.
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Add crushed ice, almost two-thirds of the way to the top of the cup. At this point, add a fresh mint sprig garnish and a straw, which should be no more than one-half inch over the lip of the julep cup. You want your nose in the cup as you sip - this is crucial.
Tap the ice down firmly. Add two ounces of Woodford Reserve or your bourbon of choice. Then add a layer of loose crushed ice on top.
"Every time you draw a sip through your straw, you draw the bourbon through that ice, and it gets super-cold and runs through that sugar-mint paste and up the straw," Morris said. "So you're actually mixing each sip as you do it. It's delicious that way."
Makes 1 serious mint julep.