October 18, 2017

Mint Julep

This bridge connecting with Indiana is one of Louisville's top
attractions. That's right, their "attraction" is a way to leave
You know how it is. It's some time around midnight and you're driving around with a friend trying to figure out what to do between the hours when normal people go to sleep, and when you go to sleep. And eventually, after some hemming and hawing, you settle on the obvious choice. You drive to Kentucky. At least that's what happened to me earlier this week. In my defense, I wanted to do it and you're not the boss of me. I learned some valuable things along the way. One is that Indiana is boring and goes on forever. Seriously...think about it. One of their main attractions is that you can go hang out with the Amish. I have nothing against the Amish, but if they're your main tourist attraction then you've obviously collectively given up as a State. The main point of all of this is that two days ago I was in Kentucky, the current home of bourbon, horse racing, and apparently not much else. But who says I need anything else? Also, I didn't see any horse races.


Approximately 10 Mint leaves (Spearmint is traditional, but that's mostly just because it's pretty common in the south. Use whatever mint makes you happy.)
Superfine Sugar (You want the sugar to dissolve as much as possible in the bourbon. Some people use simply syrup or powdered sugar, but you can't really muddle your mint with those. Which is a problem for me. And now for you.)

The first thing you're going to do is get a weirdly specific history lesson. Because the Mint Julep has a couple weird little traditions around it, most of which I'm ignoring because I don't own silver cups. Oh, one of those traditions is that they're served in silver cups. Or sometimes pewter cups. I also don't have pewter cups. Essentially, a Julep was a kind of medicinal drink back in the day when doctors were like 5 times as fun, but only 1/2 as effective as they are now. It was said to be "restorative," which is late-19th-century-speak for "fun," and people would often start their day with one. It can technically be made with any liquor, but since it became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, bourbon has been the most common base. Why is it the official drink of the Kentucky Derby? Well, Kentucky is crazy hot and humid in the summer, and drinking some icy mint-based drinks had to help with that. And after drinking enough bourbon, maybe it wasn't as boring to watch horses run in a circle. 

Of course the glass isn't full. I had to taste it.
For....quality assurance. Yeah, that holds up.
Anyway, step one is to toss your mint and sugar in the bottom of a cup and muddle them a bit. Muddling, for those of you who don't have mounds of useless knowledge stacked up in your brain next to a carton of commercial jingles from the 90s, is essentially pressing firmly down on fresh ingredients in a glass so that the flavors get released and can seep into the drink better. The sugar will help with this. The tiny sugar crystals will tear into the mint just slightly. Then pack your glass full of crushed ice if you can get it, or regular ice if, like me, crushed ice only happens to you at fancy cocktail parties and dinners that you're only able to attend because you won a raffle (That actually happened to me). Anyhow, add in your bourbon until it's about 3/4 of the way full and stir to combine. Top the rest of it off with ice, and enjoy living the life of a southern gentleman. Except you can't afford things like horses. Maybe you can afford glue. Go drink your bourbon and do some arts and crafts.

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