A mint julep will always have a place in my summer cocktail rotation, from the first sip on Kentucky Derby Day to the last sip on a late summer evening on the porch. I shared a very large pitcher of them with some friends recently, and I was struck by their simplicity and versatility. The eight of us have diverse tastes, but we all agreed that there’s no better cocktail for a summer party. I don’t know why the mentholated chill of mint and the fiery warmth of bourbon complement each other so well, but they certainly do. A bourbon drink that’s refreshing enough for sticky summer days is as good as it gets. And one that doesn’t require a ton of fiddly measuring and mixing is perfection.
2 oz bourbon
1 tsp powdered sugar
or 2 tsp mint simple syrup (see recipe below)
5 mint leaves
mint sprig for garnish
Muddle mint leaves with sugar or syrup in an old fashioned glass. Fill glass with ice (crushed ice is traditional, but cubes are fine). Add bourbon and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
10 mint leaves
Heat water and sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add mint leaves and stir. Steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean glass bottle or jar. Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for one month. Makes approximately 2 cups.