I recently discovered some mint growing among the nasturtium in front of my apartment and I immediately began brainstorming all the delicious things I could concoct with fresh mint: mint tea, fruit salad with mint, and of course a variety cocktails.
As much as I enjoy a good beer, I prefer cocktails. I think it’s partially a volume thing. I just can’t drink THAT much liquid, beer or otherwise, and partially that I get bored of the the flavor of a beer about halfway through the pint. I really enjoy cocktails for the diverse flavors and manageable volume. Maybe I’m being kind of defensive about my preference but I have a lot of friends who are staunch beer drinkers and always make me feel sissy when I order a cocktail. I just like them more. Okay, guys?!
Rationale aside, I made mint juleps for the first time last night and they were so tasty! Mint juleps are a classic southern cocktail often associated with the Kentucky Derby. They are delicious without being overly sweet. The mint and sugar complement the flavor of the bourbon, without covering it up. You don’t need any fancy mixing equipment or numerous ingredients; all you need is bourbon, sugar, mint, and ice.
Step one: Make a simple syrup. Combine equal parts water and sugar and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn.
Step two: Bruise the mint leaves with dull edge of a knife. You will need 8 leaves per glass, reserve one for garnish.
Step three: Put the mint in a glass and cover with crushed ice. If you don’t have an ice maker that crushes ice, just wrap a few cubes in a towel and whack it with a hammer.
Step four: Give the ice and mint a stir to muddle it together and further release the essential oils of the mint leaves.
Step five: Pour 2 oz of bourbon over the ice and sweeten to taste with the simple syrup. I found 1 TBS of the syrup was perfect (it amounts to about 1/2 TBS of sugar.)