2 Parts Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 Part Mint Infused Simple Syrup
1 Mint Sprig
Traditional Mint Julep Cup
The traditional Kentucky Mint Julep cup goes back hundreds of years to the early American silversmiths. It was a cup that denoted wealth and prestige. It was and still is exchanged and gifted at weddings, christenings and of course the races. According to The Bourbon Review in a 1908 Chicago Tribune article about the mint julep, Lexington’s Samuel Judson told the reporter:
Take a silver cup—always a silver cup. Fill it with ice pulverized to the fineness of snow. Bruise one tender little leaf of mint and stick it in the ice. Then dissolve a spoonful of sugar in about three-quarters of a Kentucky drink of good whisky and let the fluid filter through the ice to the bottom of the cup. Shake the cup slowly until a coating of a thick white frost forms on the outside. Trim with mint and hand to an appreciative gentleman.
There are several schools of thought regarding the muddling of the mint for the traditional Mint Julep. One is that you use the stems as well as the leaves for higher aromatics and flavor. I have found that using the stems will sometimes give a somewhat astringent and bitter flavor to the cocktail that I do not like. I also find that muddling the mint for every single cocktail if you are serving a large group of people to be tedious. And if you over-muddle the mint you will release undesirable flavors in the mint as well.
A good friend of mine offered a wonderful solution to my dilemma by suggesting steeping the mint leaves directly into the simple syrup thereby creating a mint infused simple syrup. It was genius and very flavorful, plus catered to making a lot of cocktails but still with individual panache.
Take one cup of raw sugar and stir into one cup of water. Bring to a soft boil until the sugars are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add two cups of loosely packed mint leaves and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the mint leaves and let the mixture cool. You may like more or less mint flavor so experimenting is certainly permitted. Put in the fridge for up to a week prior to use.
Because the cocktail is basically a lot of crushed ice and a little simple syrup I like to use a higher proof bourbon such as Knob Creek (100 proof). This is where more experimenting can take place on your end. While the easiest recipe is two parts bourbon to one part mint infused simple syrup the simple syrup can be adjusted depending upon how sweet you like your Julep. The traditional cup is 16 ounces and should be filled almost to overflowing with crushed ice.
Pour one part mint infused simple syrup first then follow with two parts bourbon. The ice will begin to melt immediately with the addition of the bourbon and the cup will start to frost as you stir the ingredients together. Add a sprig of mint sprinkled with a tiny bit of powdered sugar if you’d like.