Several years ago, I suffered from back-to-back incidents of strep throat. When I saw Dr. Sugerman, he asked what I was doing about the pain. “Mint juleps,” I said. To which he replied, “Honey, I don’t believe that’s been an actual prescription since 1865. But if it gives you relief and these antibiotics continue to fail, keep on it. Granddaddy always said juleps were his Sunday penicillin.” Truer words were never spoken.
Despite their slightly medicinal reputation, mint juleps are delicious. They are traditionally made with spearmint, bourbon, sugar and water and served in frosty silver cups that stir up romantic images of the American South. The mint julep is a cocktail from another time. A time of steamboats and petticoats and gallant men who knew to wear seersucker only during summer months. Even the Northern poet dandy, Edgar Allan Poe, had a weakness for this boozy smasher.
The thing about drinking juleps is that it’s not at all like drinking cocktails made from other spirits. Sure, you can get drunk off them, but you don’t feel dark and dirty like you do with gin. Juleps make you feel light-hearted. And possibly like you want to jump in the swimming pool with all your clothes on. Or maybe that’s just me.
Personally, I like to try and avoid diabetic coma by cutting the sweetness of my juleps with fresh lemon. I also use sparkling water as opposed to flat. My reason being that most things in life are better when effervescent.
lots of fresh mint
To make mint juleps, one must first make a simple syrup. Add equal parts of finely granulated sugar and water along with a handful of mint to a small saucepan and boil. Gradually, the liquid will thicken and tinge with green. When it is quite viscous, remove from the heat and cool. Next, add two sprigs of mint to two frosted glasses. If you haven’t got sterling cups, classic highballs will do. Add 2 shots of bourbon, a shot and a half of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a shot of syrup. Muddle all the ingredients then fill the glasses with ice. Finally top off with your favorite fizzy water and enjoy.