In preparation for my upcoming trip to the Kentucky Derby, I have decided to get serious about mint juleps, the drink of choice for any crown wearing horse spectator who is usually three sheets to the wind before the race even starts.
To be honest, I’ve never been wild about juleps. I find them a bit too sweet and I’m not crazy about bourbon. But Jake is a bourbon aficionado; he was once stationed at Fort Knox near Louisville for six months and toured every bourbon distillery at least three times so go ahead and ask him any bourbon question and he will answer it correctly, I swear. (Me, I usually go into the slow fade during tours, fantasizing about the free samples at the end).
The core components of a mint julep are as follows: mint, bourbon, sugar and water.
I live amidst bourbon drinkers, my husband and close neighbors among the most prevalent. And I have it on good authority that the best way to enjoy a julep is by first infusing the bourbon with mint; forget about merely garnishing the drink with a few sprigs of the green stuff at the end!
I love mint, an otherwise grossly underutilized herb. It’s zingy, soft peppery flavor is a wonderful accompaniment to everything from hot tea to salads to white pizza. Best of all, it grows like a weed — I never run out, though it will take over a garden in a hurry so beds must be contained.
Here’s the best thing about this infusion trick. My neighbor, a very dashing bourbon sipping sort of fellow, swears that the infusion process takes away any harsh flavors on the part of the actual bourbon. He’s tried this trick with all the brands, from Maker’s Mark to Woodsford Reserve to Four Roses and says that all the bourbons, regardless of quality or price, taste the same after soaking in mint for a week or more.
I will let you know how they turn out.