I’m a sucker for a good mint julep.
I try to keep a good 5-6 different kinds of bourbon on hand at any given time; I rarely choose to drink any other kind of liquor. I try to keep Early Times around for cooking (I know it’s not technically bourbon), and for making pancake syrup with. I always have at least one bottle of Wild Turkey and a bottle of Dickel’s (my Tennessee Whiskey of choice–sorry, Jack), and then a handful of whatever else looked interesting at the liquor store. A couple of months ago I scored a bottle of Black Maple Hill, but I drank it all, and I’m not at all sorry I did it.
Usually I drink bourbon straight, on the rocks. Real ice, not real rocks. I think that the melting water opens up the flavors and I don’t mind the minor watering down at all. In fact, with a drink like Wild Turkey, a little watering down’s actually a really good thing. But I also like bourbon-based cocktails. When I’m out, I always order an old-fashioned. It has enough ingredients in it that it’s not that much fun to make at home, but it’s delicious. My best bourbon buddy says the old fashioned is too sweet, but I like it.
Once I made bacon-infused bourbon, and used it to make a delicious old fashioned. And an absolutely disgusting Manhattan. Live and learn.
But the point of all of this, other than to just, generally talk about bourbon, is that my favorite bourbon cocktail to make at home is a mint julep. I haven’t made it that often because it requires, well, mint. But seeing as how we just bought a house last month, and the back yard came with, among other treasures, a huge pot of what I believe to be spearmint, that is no longer a problem. Accordingly, I have had no small number of mint juleps since moving in. It’s a perfect summery drink, and, like a Bellini, you’re allowed to have it in the morning.
I realize that the mint julep is often associated with the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Derby parties, but I am an advocate for bringing this delicious drink back into regular rotation. It’s not all that different from a mojito, after all (different liquor and no lime), and those aren’t arbitrarily restricted to once-a-year drinking.
So today I picked a bunch of our spearmint and I am making a mint simple syrup with it. I know that’s kind of cheating (actually muddling the mint is the correct way, and probably tastes better), but we have so much dang mint, I feel like I should do something with it other than picking a sprig here and there. So right now I have a huge fistful of the mint boiling in water, and I’m going to strain it, turn the liquid (which will effectively be super-strong mint tea at that point) into simple syrup, and put it in a jar to save for later. We’ll see how it turns out. In any case, I am looking forward to making sure I test it thoroughly and exhaustively over the next few coming weekends.