Every Friday, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Today: Sydney from Crepes of Wrath stirs up a classic mint julep to celebrate Derby Day -- or any day.
Here's something funny: I don’t think I knew what the Kentucky Derby was until I moved to New York City. There is this stereotype out there that New Yorkers don’t like the South, and vice versa, but that’s not true at all: New York is obsessed with the South. There are countless Southern-themed restaurants, bourbon bars, and, as I’ve come to find out, Kentucky Derby parties.
The mint julep is the quintessential Derby cocktail. Mint, a splash of simple syrup, good bourbon, and ice are combined for a refreshing spring drink that is surprisingly palatable even for those who don’t usually love bourbon or whisky. I like an extra minty julep, so I went ahead and steeped a big bunch of mint leaves in my warm simple syrup for a big pop of flavor. I also crushed my own ice. You don’t necessarily have to do this, but it makes for a beautiful drink and allows the ice to melt more evenly, which eventually creates a sort of bourbon slushie. And who wouldn’t want a bourbon slushie?
The Kentucky Derby is this weekend, so go watch it on television, listen to it on the radio, celebrate at a bar, or just sit back (preferably on your porch like a proper Southerner would) and sip on this classic mint julep.
Makes 2 cocktails
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 bunch mint leaves
7 ounces bourbon
2 ounces mint simple syrup
25 to 30 fresh mint leaves
Small bunches of mint leaves, for garnish
First, you need to make your simple syrup. Add your sugar to your water and bring it to a boil. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove it from the heat and place it in a non-reactive container. Place a big bunch of mint leaves in the syrup and allow it to steep for at least an hour.
Once the syrup has cooled, you can strain it and discard the mint leaves.
Add about 12 to 15 mint leaves per drink to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add your mint simple syrup, bourbon, and plenty of ice, and shake vigorously.
Fill your julep glasses (if you have them; if not, a Collins glass works well) halfway with ice, then strain your drinks through a sieve into the glasses -- you don't want specks of mint in your teeth as you drink!
Pack crushed ice on top of the drinks, garnish with a mint sprig or two and a straw, and enjoy.
Photos by Sydney Kramer