May always reminds me of how much I love Mint Juleps. The weather starts to warm up, news begins to mention the Kentucky Derby, and inevitably some friends post pictures wearing giant hats. There is something so perfect about a pile of crushed ice being slowly worn away by a medley of mint and bourbon in a metal cup.
The recipe is simple on its face, but the love that goes into a Mint Julep makes all the difference. First of all, mint is not to be crushed. It is important to gently release the fragrant oils while not bruising the mint and turning it bitter. I recommend either clapping the mint gently in your hand and gently rubbing the mint leaves on the inside of the julep cup. From there, the rest of the ingredients go in, followed by a few stirs. Add crushed ice to the top of the cup, give a few more stirs, and top with a final mound of crushed ice. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint, a short straw (so that the drinker gets a full breath of mint with every sip), and a napkin or cloth to keep the iced metal away from a thirsty patron’s hands.
Here’s to a spirited summer!