Mint Julep

May 2, 2010 (Day 92) — Mint Julep

“Now, looking down from the press box, I pointed to the huge grassy meadow enclosed by the track. ‘That whole thing,’ I said, ‘will be jammed with people; fifty thousand or so, and most of them staggering drunk. It’s a fantastic scene — thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles. We’ll have to spend some time out there, but it’s hard to move around, too many bodies.’

“‘Is is safe out there? Will we ever come back?’

“‘Sure,’ I said, ‘We’ll just have to be careful not to step on anybody’s stomach and start a Fight.’ I shrugged. ‘Hell, this clubhouse scene right below us will be almost as bad as the infield. Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By midafternoon they’ll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomitting on each other between races. The whole place will be jammed with bodies, shoulder to shoulder. It’s hard to move around. The aisles will be slick with vomit; people falling down and grabbing at your legs to keep from being stomped. Drunks pissing on themselves in the betting lines. Dropping handfuls of money and fighting to stoop over and pick it up.'”

— Hunter S. Thompson “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” 1970

Image from

In case you missed it, or you were living under a rock, the Kentucky Derby was yesterday. Horses! Southern gentleman! Gigantic-ass hats! And, of course, Mint Juleps, the drink of choice for a warm spring day in the south. Served during the Derby since the early 1900s, the tasty yet powerful mix of bourbon, syrup and mint has become synonymous with the event.

And big ass hats (Photo from

And since The Bar Napkin was last night — featuring Chicago bartender Josh Davis — I wasn’t able to have this as the featured cocktail last night. But here’s the great thing about this tasty little kick in the teeth — it’s good on any warm day. And after heading out for a short game of golf with the stepson, what better way to relax and cool down that sipping on a Mint Julep as a breeze wafts through the windows?

I’m pretty sure a nap is next on the list.

Mint Julep (Traditional)

2 1/2 oz bourbon

3/4 oz simple syrup

7 to 8 mint sprigs

Crushed ice

Add mint to bottom of a rocks glass. Or, if you happen to have one on hand, a traditional silver Mint Julep Cup. Add simple syrup and gently muddle mint into syrup. Rub around the edges of the glass. The goal here is to infuse the syrup with the mint’s oils. Discard the extra mint, leaving only the simple syrup infused with mint. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice, then top with your bourbon.

Swirl gently, not stirring. This will get the syrup off the sides of your glass and get the oils mixed in.

Add more crushed ice on top until mound forms. Drizzle the top with a little bit more simple syrup, then garnish with a mint sprig.

Holy crap, this is a good drink. The purpose of the crushed ice is to make the drink colder much faster than simply using ice cubes, and sipping the drink through the mound of crushed ice cools the bourbon down even faster. The first kick is of bourbon, but then there’s the faintest hint of the sweet mint syrup. The two tastes compliment each other very very well. The sweetness of the bourbon works well with the mint, while the simple syrup takes the bite off the bourbon.

This is good. Dangerously good. Definitely try this. You’ll like. Now, to get my hands on a silver cup…

May the best day of your past be the worst day in your future!

— Mark


  1. […] you couldn’t tell already, the taste is very similar to the Mint Julep. The preparation is a bit different, and there’s no simple syrup and there’s the […]

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