Añejo mint julep. Mint juleps are from the same cocktail family of smashes and my beloved mojitos. They are, like I said before, the quintessential American cocktail. Mixologists Jason Kosmas and Dusahn Zaric, authors of Speakeasy and owners of Employees Only in New York, said that “at the summit of cocktail Olympus,” mint juleps “sit next to the classics like the Martini, the Manhattan and the Sazerac.” I agree.
The first juleps were made with cognac and peach brandy. Today they are mostly made of bourbon, mint, sugar or simply syrup, water and lots of crushed ice. I make my own with Ron de Venezuela —which by the way is aged in bourbon barrels— and mint syrup, and trust me: it is heavenly delicious!
Mint juleps are associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States, mostly Kentucky and Virginia, where they are the summer cocktail par excellence. Since 1938, mint juleps have been the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, where they usually serve around 120,000 drinks in just two days! These juleps are mostly served in Kentucky Derby collectible glasses.
Since 2006, Churchill Downs, home of the Derby, has been serving ultra deluxe mint juleps in gold plated cups with silver straws at a cost of $1,000 a drink, to fund retired horse racers charities.
Traditionally, mint juleps were served in silver or pewter julep cups to keep it chilled longer. These days, they are mostly served in tall old fashioned Collins or highball glasses with a straw. At Employees Only, for example, they serve them in rocks glasses and that is what I do too.
No need to say the Kentucky Derby brings memories of my childhood. In 1971, Venezuelan champion thoroughbred race horse Cañonero II, ridden by also Venezuelan jockey Gustavo Ávila, won the Derby. Cañonero II amazed everyone by coming from 18th place to storm past the competition, easily winning the race by 3 3/4 lengths. For a video of Cañonero II shocking victory, click here.
Here is my free version of Employees Only’s mint julep. I just substitute Ron de Venezuela for bourbon and this is why I call it añejo mint julep. Cheers!
I am a writer who cooks or a cook who writes: the order of the qualities does not alter the product. Since 2010 I made SAVOIR FAIRE the place where my two passions converge and now I develop recipes professionally and work as a strategist and creator of digital content, including the production of cooking videos.