Yield
Makes 1 cocktail

The julep is a classic example of a cocktail with history. It is thought to have been created on a horse farm in the late 1700s. Farmwork was very laborious and took a toll on the body. There were no over-the-counter pain relievers at the corner drugstore back then, but there was a lot of whiskey. The whiskeys at that time didn’t taste as good as they do today. So, with the help of a little sugar and mint, the “medicine” went down easier. The muscles would relax and it was then time to get back to work. They called this remedy a “Morning Bracer.” At the end of the day, one would also need an “Evening Bracer.” The cocktail then went on to become a refined drink of the South, now synonymous with the first Saturday in May and the running of the Kentucky Derby.

Our julep uses a mint simple syrup, which is quicker than muddling and makes the drink easy to make for several people at once. We use Woodford Reserve bourbon, the official bourbon of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less simple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Mint Simple Syrup (or other simple syrup - see recipes below)
  • 2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
  • 1 mint sprig, for garnish

Bourbon Country Cookbook book cover Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird

Directions

Fill a tall glass or julep cup with crushed ice. Add the syrup and then the bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, add a sipping straw, garnish with the mint, and serve.

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Simple Syrup

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part water

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.

Mint Simple Syrup

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part packed fresh mint leaves

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves, and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes. Strain before using, pressing on the mint leaves to extract as much syrup as possible.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

Makes: 3 cups

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 rosemary spears (8–10 inches each)

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, add the rosemary, and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes. Strain before using, pressing on the rosemary to extract as much syrup as possible.

Honey Syrup

  • 1 part honey
  • 1 part water

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the honey and water. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well combined.

 

Reprinted with permission from The Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird, Agate Surrey, 2018.