I know the Kentucky Derby was last month, and by some measures the venerable Mint Julep only crosses our radar then and then only. But when the day is hot and the thirst is mighty, I'd strongly suggest banging out a Julep. In continuing with the mint in cocktails theme, I'd like to cobble together a love letter of sorts to perhaps America's most iconic cocktail. . . an ode to the Mint Julep, in quotes and in a video link:
"They say that you may always know the grave of a Virginian as, from the quantity of julep he has drunk, mint invariably springs up where he has been buried."
Frederick Marryat, 1839
"....that the mounds of ices, and the bowls of mint-julep and sherry cobbler they make in these latitudes, are refreshments never to be thought of afterwards, in summer, by those who would preserve contented minds."
Charles Dickens, while traveling in America, 1842
"If the mark of a great cocktail is the number of unbreakable rules it generates, then the mint julep may be America's preeminent classic, edging out the martini in a photo finish.
William Grimes, 'Straight Up Or On The Rocks'
"When all is ready, assemble your guests on the porch or in the garden where the aroma of the juleps will rise heavenward and make the birds sing. Propose a worthy toast, raise the goblets to your lips, bury your nose in the mint, inhale a deep breath of it's fragrance and sip the nectar of the gods."
Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner Jr, in a letter to a fellow General on his preparation of the Mint Julep, 1937.
Legendary New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian liked to recite the entirety of a newspaper column written by a Kentucky Colonel while making his mint juleps. A video thankfully has been added to You Tube showing McMillian at work, and I strongly suggest you follow THIS LINK for the most moving cocktail preparation I've ever seen. Yes, it's long. Watch it, anyway.
Lastly, here's a few tips on the mint julep. . .
* Remember, be delicate while muddling the mint.
* If you can find one, get a silver julep cup. The cocktail is entirely different when in a glass, which warms up faster than the silver cup.
* Use high-proof bourbon or rye. Dilution plays a major role in the julep. Higher proof booze holds flavor longer under such conditions.
"Being overcome with thirst, I can write no further."
Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner Jr., 1937
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