If you are looking for a way to spark up your Derby Julep, and get a bit ahead of race day mayhem, try making this simple syrup infused with mint. Mint juleps are huge in Louisville during Derby season, and there’s a good reason why at the end of festivities, they just seem to fade away. The drink is really just not that appealing. Usually either too sweet or too strong, the drink causes a grimace on the faces of most imbibers.
Seasonal bartenders (sort of like arm-chair quarterbacks) are certain that their Julep will change your mind about Mint Juleps. I suppose they think that the right woman will turn a gay man around too. If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I too am a bartender wanna-be. I profess to make a mean margarita, a knock-your-socks-off cosmopolitan and a better than average Mojito. Why not try a Mint Julep?
In a ‘Kentucky Favorites’ class this week, I took my shaker out for a spin and came up with a better than average Julep. Will I make them often? Not likely. But, I did find a great new simple syrup which will work it’s way into my summertime iced tea, some minty lemonade, and oh, yeah – a Mojito or two.
Participants in the class liked the Julep (they said) better than others they had had. Perhaps it was the peppermint that I used instead of the native Ky. mint that grows in many a back yard in Louisville. Peppermint grows in my back yard, which is why I chose this variety.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, simple syrups are the backbone of the well stocked home bar. Most retail establishments don’t make their own syrup, which is why a lot of cocktails are lack luster at best. When you are paying upwards of $8-10 per cocktail in a bar, they should be phenomenal. Fresh fruit juices and simple syrups will elevate your bar tending abilities to heights previously unrealized. So learn to make this syrup and tinker around with some cocktails. Make a Julep, then try the syrup in some tea.
If you are looking for a fun Hostess Gift for a Derby party, funnel the finished syrup into a pretty glass bottle, pack it into a bag or basket with some nice bourbon and a potted mint plant. Clever!!
Mint Infused Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup loosely packed peppermint leaves, muddled (smashed or bruised with a wooden implement)
Bring the water and sugar to a simmer over medium high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the syrup over the mint leaves and chill. Strain the syrup, removing all the leaves and stems. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
To make a Mint Julep, combine 1 oz simple syrup, 2 oz bourbon and at least 1 cup crushed ice. Shake until well chilled, then pour into a hi-ball or Julep glass. Garnish with a beautiful sprig of mint.