Food & Drink

The Mint Julep Has a Surprising Past (Plus, Learn How to Make It)

The Mint Julep Has a Surprising Past (Plus, Learn How to Make It)
Jason Varney
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When we hear the phrase “Kentucky Derby,” most of us probably think of jockeys in white pants, flamboyant hats, and mint juleps served in pristine silver cups.

The refreshment has come to be associated with the annual horse race, but “the word 'julep' dates back to the 1400s and the Persian word gul-ab, meaning ‘rosewater,’” write André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington in their recently released book, The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks ($13; “The drink developed in the Southern United States, where it originally included peach brandy, and became famous throughout the world.” The authors suggest pairing the beverage with fried oysters, a burger, or a club sandwich, and add, “For a novel variation, slip a slice of bourbon-soaked peach into the bottom of the glass before adding ice.” Try their recipe below. 

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Mint Julep

2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz simple syrup
6 mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish

Muddle mint and simple syrup in a rocks glass or silver julep cup ($20; Top with crushed or shaved ice. Pour the bourbon over the top, and stir until the cup frosts. Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve with a straw.

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