Mint Julep ~ Swedish Grandma’s Best & the Derby Drink
A fresh and cool summer cocktail delight, the Mint Julep has a lovely history.
It’s also the official beverage of the Kentucky Derby! In graduate school, I was bored with the beverage flavors common to East Coast soirees (i.e. the standard gin martini or local brew), so I started researching cocktail recipes. Specifically, I was interested in liqueres and more esoteric drinks with a history.
Alcohol based beverages have been an art-form at various times in culinary history, often being prized for their flavors in small samples.
The Mint Julep was a curious one I heard of from a friend. Calling on the best gourmet chef I knew, my Swedish Grandmother Irene Nelson, I was given her old-school, delicious recipe.
Grandma Rene was famous for throwing fantastic dinner parties, quietly, gracefully presenting only the best. She was meticulous in the art of homemaking ~ sewed her own cloths and her children’s, grew her vegetables and cooked everything from scratch. By age 40, Rene was also reaping the benefits of her husband’s financial success, and was fortunate to spend the money and time to make each meal an exquisite, artistic creation. Her artistic palate and sensitivity to beauty made each beverage and meal something her guests would look forward to.
Like our grandmothers, at Caramelize Life we like to cook seasonally. When the mint is green and prolific in the herb garden as it is now, one should make mint juleps!
I embellished the recipe a bit by picking some edible flowers, herbs and fruit from the garden and freezing them for this and other cocktails.
Mint leaves work great frozen in ice cube trays or small tupperware. Mint cubes can be used in summer iced tea, juleps, fruit beverages, as can fresh camomile and bitty strawberries. If mint and strawberries aren’t growing in your garden, locally in the Methow, they are available fresh at Glover Street Market or growing live at Local 98856. I froze the columbine as a large ornamental ice cube to go in big bowls of summer fruit punch.
~ Mint Julep ~
from Grandma Irene Nelson
8-10 fresh mint leaves
1 Tablespoon sugar
Ice, crushed or cocktail cubes
2 1/2 ounces bourbon
Splash Simple Syrup, recipe follows
Sprig of mint or two, for garnish
~Place mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a tall cocktail or beer glass; with the handle of a wooden spoon, mash the leaves to extract the flavor.
~Fill the glass with crushed or cubed ice; pour in the bourbon and top with a splash of simple syrup.
~With your same wooden spoon handle, shake (do not stir ~ just like 007) to chill and mix.
~Garnish with a sprig of mint, and enjoy.
Yield: 1 cocktail
~ Simple Syrup ~
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
~ Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cooking until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and cool completely.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups simple syrup
Love from our kitchen to yours, Georgina @ Caramelize Life