The exact history of the Mint Julep is hazy to say the least. Some people say it was a tasty morning beverage for farmers in the south to get their farming on. Others say it was used to cure stomach aches and sore throats. Others content that it was once the cocktail of the elite. After all, the cocktail is typically served in a silver or pewter cup, of which was once considered expensive glassware. Similarly, the recipe calls for crushed ice which was a luxury back in the day. Having access to an ice house or the funds to buy ice was out of the ordinary. Finally, one would not make their own mint julep. No no. You would have a servant who would make and serve it to you. But the catch was they needed to be a trustworthy servant who had access to your glassware, ice house, whisky and new how to make the glass properly frosted.
Regardless of where and why the Mint Julep originated, this cocktail has been adopted by the Kentucky Derby as the drink of choice since the 1930’s. So much so that over 120,000 are served annually at the two-days the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby are hosted. Similar to the Kentucky Derby, each year in July the Deighton Cup is held at the Hastings Race Track in Vancouver. This one day event brings together thousands of dapper individuals who are dressed to the nines to drink juleps and watch ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’. What I’m particularly excited about however, is the Cocktail Jockey Mixology Competition which will feature 14 bartenders from around Vancouver who are tasked with creating their best variation on a classic bourbon indulgence. While I won’t be participating in this competition, I will be covering the event for Novus Television!
In the spirit of the races, this week I’ll be showcasing a number of variations of the classic Mint Julep. As you can see above, there are only a few main ingredients that go into a Mint Julep however so many opportunities to change the taste and experience utilizing a number of variables:
1. Using different types of bourbons or switching out bourbon for another type of whisky
2. Using a different sweetening agent other than powdered sugar
3. Substituting water for sparkling water
4. Using varying types of glassware
Here’s the list of varying mint juleps from the website:
VARIATION I: Chocolate Mint Julep
VARIATION II: Wild Berry Julep
VARIATION III: Rhubarb Mint Julep [COMING SOON]
VARIATION IV: Hyssop Lemon Julep [COMING SOON]
VARIATION V: Red Currant Julep [COMING SOON]