Brian Makes Mint Juleps: The Classic

Here in Louisville, April is Mint Julep Month! To celebrate, our Program Director and Historic Cocktail Aficionado, Brian Cushing, will be taking us through the history of the Mint Julep and some of it’s historical variations! Today, we’re starting with a classic, simple Mint Julep—read on for Brian’s tips and tricks! 

Although there are about as many ways to make a mint julep as there are people who make them, the notion that most people in the present day have of a mint julep is a relatively consistent basic idea because that is how it has been in living memory. So before this series goes into the forms it took in earlier days, sometimes very, very different from what we know now, let’s make make a classic julep as we know them so we have something to compare the rest to. My method began with the recipe on page 6 of the 1938 cookbook dedicated to the Louisville Women’s Club, a plain-looking paperback book in not the best of shape that I was lucky enough to pick up off the shelf at a Locust Grove book sale. I tweaked this and that and used trial and error until I got what I was looking for.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 oz Bourbon. It can be whatever Bourbon you like; I find Old Bardstown 100 proof to work especially well for this
  • 1 tsp. white granulated sugar
  • 6 sprigs of mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Straw
  • A silver or silver-plated cup ideally but other metal cups will work and a glass is not a dealbreaker.

Take the leaves off of five of the six sprigs of mint and crush/muddle them. Fill your cup half full of crushed ice. Add the sugar and crushed mint and mix well. Once the ice starts to turn green, it’s pretty much ready. Add the Bourbon; mix. Fill the rest of the cup with ice and give it another quick mix. With the remaining mint sprig, rub it lightly in your hands to start to release the scent. Plant it in the drink (stalk down). Place the straw in the drink next to the sprig and snip the straw off to a height that will put the person drinking the beverage’s nose close to the mint sprig.

And it’s ready! We’re going to take an interesting and delicious journey from here with some unexpected elements that will give us a taste of what came before.

Thanks, Brian! And cheers, y’all! 

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