My husband, Andy, has lived in this country for over four years, but he still gets excited about trying new American things. He hails from a country where the first oldest annual horse race took place in 1519, yet earlier this month he was still intrigued by our “old” American tradition of the Kentucky Derby.
We watched the race at a friend’s pre-Cinco de Mayo party. Andy was amused by the fancy hats and mesmerized by the majestic horses and their dramatic stories. But when someone mentioned we should really be drinking Mint Juleps that really got Andy’s attention. A cocktail? As we sipped on our celebratory margaritas and beer, we described the Mint Julep. When we got to bourbon—Andy’s favorite—he was ready to trade in his margarita right then.
The following Sunday afternoon Andy and I were in the Flatiron District at a bar known more for its attractive outdoor area than its signature cocktails. When Andy toyed with the idea of ordering his first Mint Julep, I steered him to a Pimm’s Cup. Knowing we’d see our family mixologists, Sharon and Anthony, for Memorial Day Weekend, I immediately texted to see if they’d create the perfect Mint Julep for Andy. They happily agreed.
Once I told Mom we were having Mint Juleps, she got on the case too. When she told her friends about our mint julep party, her friend Pam offered her julep cups, and her other friend, Fran, donated fresh mint from her garden.
Memorial Day weekend Sharon and Anthony came prepared with a perfected recipe, and on our first night together they shook up a batch. Once this community drink came together and we took our first sip, I was sure of my decision to make Andy wait.
And it may not be tradition, but I’m serving Andy his second Mint Julep at next Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Twice Minted Julep
Makes 1 drink.
8 fresh mint leaves, more for garnish
1/2 oz. mint simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 1/2 oz. bourbon
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint with the simple syrup. Add bourbon and a handful of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass or julep cup with fresh ice. Garnish with mint leaves.
Mint Simple Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 3 minutes. Add fresh mint, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.