Just the words, Mint Julep, conjure up images of the Deep South: the heat, plantation workers in the fields, Scarlett O’Hara with her sunshade – and her young men sipping their long cool drinks.
When the Mint Julep was first created in the 18th century, the most important ingredient wasn’t the spirit that was used, which might have been bourbon, rum or brandy, but the ice. As well as being delightfully cooling, ice was expensive; its lavish use displayed the wealth of the party-giver.
Just like strawberries and cream are associated with Wimbledon so Mint Julep is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, a major horse race held annually on the first Saturday in May. It has become traditional to toast the winner with a Mint Julep, which these days, is always made with bourbon. Over 80,000 of these drinks are enjoyed during this sporting weekend.
To make just 1, you need:
- 6 cl Bourbon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Chop some mint leaves and mix them with the sugar. Put this in the bottom of a tall glass and add 2 cl of Bourbon. Half-fill the glass with crushed ice and stir together. Place a sprig of mint in the glass, then top up with ice. Add the remaining bourbon. Serve with a straw.
Adjust the quantity of mint to taste.