The Perfect Mint Julep
Saddle up and get ready for the most exciting two minutes in sports, because before you know it the Kentucky Derby (May 7th) will be here. Kentuckians sure do have a lot of time-honored race day traditions – seersucker suits and straw hats for the guys; over-the-top bonnets and colorful dresses for the ladies, and sipping on Mint Juleps made with Kentucky Bourbon is a must. Maker’s Markis one of Kentucky’s finest premium bourbons, handcrafted at the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world. It has always been handcrafted by the Samuels Family, and eighth generation distiller and COO Rob Samuels has offered up his family recipe for the perfect Mint Julep to share with your readers.
“The Perfect Mint Julep”
1 liter Maker’s Mark
Lots of fresh spearmint
To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves – wash and place in a small mixing bowl. Cover with 3 ounces of Maker’s Mark. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times. Then set aside.
To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and one cup of water in a cooking pot. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 ½ cups of Maker’s Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. (Pour the remaining whisky from the liter bottle into another container and save it for another purpose). Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker’s Mark.
Now, begin adding the mint extract a tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose. The tendency is to use too much mint. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste – generally about 3 tablespoons.
When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.
To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) half full with shaved ice. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.
When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Then serve.