It's Kentucky Derby day tomorrow, which is traditionally time for a mint julep, and May 30th is National Mint Julep Day, it seems like a good time for one. For years I avoided mint juleps, for some reason I thought of them as a thick, creamy, sickly green colored concoction. It turns out I was confusing them with a Grasshopper (which fits that description). But now I love mint juleps!
There are many (many, many) recipes for mint juleps. Some are tall refreshing drinks, others are as strong as any cocktail you could find, some need to be cooked, and others just need a quick stir. I hesitate to even give a recipe for fear of raising the ire of some aficionado. But I like my recipe, and it's easy and adaptable.
Start with fresh mint. Easy to get at the grocery store, and even easier to get out of the yard. Mint is beyond easy to grow, it's a weed! If you like mint juleps and mojitos then I suggest you keep some in a pot in the yard; don't put it in the ground unless you want it to take over. Take 5 or 6 leaves, plus a sprig for garnish. I prefer regular mint, but some recipes call for spearmint.
Muddle the leaves in a glass. I like to add a pinch of the sugar and little bourbon at this point; I think it helps the muddling process to get the most flavor out.
Pour this into a shaker full of ice, add 2 ounces of bourbon, a table spoon of sugar, and an ounce of water. Shake hard.
Strain this into a glass full of ice. Straining is important to get the bits of mint out. Choose either a short glass for an intense cocktail, or use a tall glass which you then finish with 3 or 4 ounces of club soda. Float the sprig of mint on top as a garnish; the garnish is for more than just looks here, with every sip your nose will be in the mint getting all that aroma.
6 mint leaves
1 mint sprig
2 oz bourbon
1 oz water
4 oz club soda
Some notes about sugar: Using a finer sugar (5x or bar sugar) will dissolve easier. Don't use powdered sugar, it has corn starch in it. You can use simple syrup instead of the sugar and water, just combine equal amounts of sugar and water, either boil it or shake it until the sugar is completely dissolved. Use double the simple syrup for the sugar called for.