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The Mint Julep


donk79
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Dave: would fine-as-snow ice really mangle mint?

Also, as for the frosting, I use metal-on-metal Boston shakers, and find that I always end up with frost on both parts of the shaker before I even finish shaking.

--

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know this is post-Derby...

but I picked up a copy of the Journal of American Mixology (I may be mangling the name of the journal?) and there was a fascinating article on the history of the mint julep. The writer (the owner of LeNell's) dissected the use of mint, the origin of the silver julep cup, etc etc. Worthwhile reading.

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  • 11 months later...

Yeah, the subtitle says the Mint Julep isn't just for Derby Day, bit tomorrow IS Derby Day, so I think this is a suitable bump. I need to get some bourbon and some mint so I'll be set tomorrow come post time.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Made myself a Bulleit Julep last night as my shift drink after a painfully long slow evening. It was delicious and reminded me of just how much I love a good julep. I ought to make myself one far more often than I do. Being reminded because of Derby Day is a fine excuse, but I oughta get around to it way more frequently.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Made myself a Bulleit Julep last night as my shift drink after a painfully long slow evening.  It was delicious and reminded me of just how much I love a good julep.  I ought to make myself one far more often than I do.  Being reminded because of Derby Day is a fine excuse, but I oughta get around to it way more frequently.

I agree 100%. I made a reverse Prescription Julep (1 1/2 oz rye, 1/2 oz cognac) last night and it was one of the best drinks I've had in a long time. I need to make them more often as well.

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  • 11 months later...

For my money, there's no better lesson on how to make a Mint Julep, to say nothing of being the consumate old-fashioned bartender, than

by Mr. Chris MacMillian, late of the Library Lounge in New Orleans.

The prose is a fabulous touch as well, though you'll note he doesn't make the drink exactly as the article describes, notably leaving the mint in the cup. I find that the most notable departure from received wisdom, pouring the syrup on top of the drink, produces excellent results, as does mixing the syrup and whiskey together.

I would say Maker's Mark is not my preferred brand for a julep, but there is of course nothing wrong with it. Lately I've been loving some juleps made with Old Weller 107, robust but elegant whiskey if ever there was one.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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In the absence of a lewis bag what do people use? I have some big linen dish cloths, I imagine folding that up should work. Pillowcase? I imagine my wife walking in while I'm beating a pillowcase with a rolling pin - should be funny.

Looking forward to May. Mint Julep is our cocktail of the month.

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The Lewis bag isn't as easy to fake as I thought it would be. The linen dish cloths would be better than a pillowcase, but either will be quickly shredded by hammering ice with a muddler or rolling pin. The material is more important than the bag-form. The heavy canvas of a Lewis bag is tough as nails, and absorbent, which helps wick water away and keep the ice dry.

An art supply store will help solve the problem, if you plan to make a lot of mint juleps this way next month. You can buy good raw canvas at a big art supply store, and cheap rubber mallets used by sculptors and mosaic artists (having used a muddler at first, I now swear by the comfort and indestructability of a rubber mallet).

Cut a foot-wide strip of canvas twice as long as you'd like your bag, fold it over double and sew the sides closed to form a bag (almost any neighborhood dry cleaner/alterations place can do it for you with machines that make easy work of sewing heavy canvas) and you're done.

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Re a Lewis Bag: 15 bucks will get you one of these.

Or you can buy a woodworker's maul and some canvas coin sacks and really go to town.

FWIW, my favorite spirit in a julep is Martell Cordon Bleu cognac. Expensive, to be sure, but even at 3 oz per drink it only ("only") costs $10 per, which is less than I'll pay for a simple Manhattan in a bar. And oh, my.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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In the absence of a lewis bag what do people use?  I have some big linen dish cloths, I imagine folding that up should work.  Pillowcase?  I imagine my wife walking in while I'm beating a pillowcase with a rolling pin - should be funny.

I believe that Mr. McMillian uses a shoe bag.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Re a Lewis Bag: 15 bucks will get you one of these.

Or you can buy a woodworker's maul and some canvas coin sacks and really go to town.

FWIW, my favorite spirit in a julep is Martell Cordon Bleu cognac. Expensive, to be sure, but even at 3 oz per drink it only ("only") costs $10 per, which is less than I'll pay for a simple Manhattan in a bar. And oh, my.

Cordon Bleu is one of my favorite Cognacs of all time, I can only dream at what a julep with it would be like! If you're still getting it for $80/btl, you're doing well; even the discount chain is asking over a bill for it around here lately.

Sounds like a hedonistic Julep, though. I'm sure the Professor would approve.

Btw, what rum do you float on top in that case, if any?

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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The Lewis bag isn't as easy to fake as I thought it would be. The linen dish cloths would be better than a pillowcase, but either will be quickly shredded by hammering ice with a muddler or rolling pin. The material is more important than the bag-form. The heavy canvas of a Lewis bag is tough as nails, and absorbent, which helps wick water away and keep the ice dry.

An art supply store will help solve the problem, if you plan to make a lot of mint juleps this way next month. You can buy good raw canvas at a big art supply store, and cheap rubber mallets used by sculptors and mosaic artists (having used a muddler at first, I now swear by the comfort and indestructability of a rubber mallet).

  Cut a foot-wide strip of canvas twice as long as you'd like your bag, fold it over double and sew the sides closed to form a bag (almost any neighborhood dry cleaner/alterations place can do it for you with machines that make easy work of sewing heavy canvas) and you're done.

Heavy duty commercial cotton napkins, sewn together thusly ought to work just fine. If your mallet doesn't have teeth on it like a meat tenderizer that will help keep the fabric intact...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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drinking a Mint Julep now. using Knob Creek Bourbon.

Still having issues making good crushed ice. My ice from the ice maker in my fridge just seems to stay solid in one piece. Dunno why. I put a bunch in a linen dish towel and whack the heck out of it with a big rolling pin. I get some fine crushed ice, but still have lots and lots of large pieces. There must be another way.

In any case, they have been very tasty.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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For my money, there's no better lesson on how to make a Mint Julep, to say nothing of being the consumate old-fashioned bartender, than
by Mr. Chris MacMillian, late of the Library Lounge in New Orleans.

Wow, I got a little misty-eyed watching this.

But no stirring? How does the mint flavor stuck at the bottom of the glass get into the drink?

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For my money, there's no better lesson on how to make a Mint Julep, to say nothing of being the consumate old-fashioned bartender, than
by Mr. Chris MacMillian, late of the Library Lounge in New Orleans.

Wow, I got a little misty-eyed watching this.

But no stirring? How does the mint flavor stuck at the bottom of the glass get into the drink?

Well, Juleps are traditionally consumed by straws, so you're drinking the bottom of it first, where the mint is. The only way I differ from this technique when making Juleps at home is to premix the Bourbon and syrup (in a tin or something) before pouring it into the cup of ice. Makes for a more consistent level of sweetness, I think, and obviates the need for stirring, which with a glass that full is a precarious operation.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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That makes sense, though I'm not a fan of straws -- though I did get some for this party that's gonna start in a few hours.

What I've been doing is muddling the leaves (very gently) with the syrup in a shaker, then add bourbon, stir (or just swish it around), and then strain with a julep strainer onto a glass filled with ice. Otherwise, what's the julep strainer for?

This works fine for me, not that it's any better than Chris's method.

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What I've been doing is muddling the leaves (very gently) with the syrup in a shaker, then add bourbon, stir (or just swish it around), and then strain with a julep strainer onto a glass filled with ice. Otherwise, what's the julep strainer for?

My understanding is that the Julep Strainer was designed to be placed over the ice in a julep for the drinker to consume the drink without having ice get up against their teeth, which would have been very painful for most people at the time. Once the straw became popular this was no longer necessary.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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For my money, there's no better lesson on how to make a Mint Julep, to say nothing of being the consumate old-fashioned bartender, than
by Mr. Chris MacMillian, late of the Library Lounge in New Orleans.

Wow, I got a little misty-eyed watching this.

If only he were that friendly and informative in real life. May be a treasure trove of cocktail info, but the guy is a plain curmudgeon in my book.

Asking him to make you a cocktail is as if you're asking him to cut off his left arm. I brought friends to Bar UnCommon (where he works now), and they were shocked by how rude he was the entire evening. As was I.

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drinking a Mint Julep now.  using Knob Creek Bourbon. 

Still having issues making good crushed ice.  My ice from the ice maker in my fridge just seems to stay solid in one piece.  Dunno why.  I put a bunch in a linen dish towel and whack the heck out of it with a big rolling pin.  I get some fine crushed ice, but still have lots and lots of large pieces.  There must be another way.

In any case, they have been very tasty.

If you can find a vintage Ice-O-Mat manual crank ice crusher grab it. I find them at flea markets for between $7 & $10 and that is in Los Angeles. As I recall Saveur magazine recommended this as the primo simple way to get good crushed ice some time ago.

I just went out to check on my mint and it smells great- sounds like a plan...

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For my money, there's no better lesson on how to make a Mint Julep, to say nothing of being the consumate old-fashioned bartender, than
by Mr. Chris MacMillian, late of the Library Lounge in New Orleans.

Wow, I got a little misty-eyed watching this.

If only he were that friendly and informative in real life. May be a treasure trove of cocktail info, but the guy is a plain curmudgeon in my book.

Asking him to make you a cocktail is as if you're asking him to cut off his left arm. I brought friends to Bar UnCommon (where he works now), and they were shocked by how rude he was the entire evening. As was I.

Huh. Well, everyone has an off night, I suppose. Mrs. slkinsey and I spent the larger part of an evening with him at the old Library Bar, and it couldn't have been better.

--

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