Mint! It’s one of those cottage-garden mainstays (once you plant it you just can’t get rid of it) and it WILL be a favorite of mine, once my transplants take root and spread.
You see, we enlarged our gardens (they are now 3 times bigger!) and are working hard to plant and transplant all the wonderful things we’ve received from friends and family in the new beds. As a result, there are some sparse and non-photogenic parts to our garden that we’d prefer not to show you. This photo of mint is from the lovely people at Rustic Garden Bistro.
But what can you do with all of that wonderful, fragrant mint? Make Mint Juleps, of course!
Dear friends, we live in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s the home of the world-renowned horse race the Kentucky Derby which happens every year on the first Saturday in May. The signature spirit in Kentucky is bourbon. And the signature cocktail for the derby is the Mint Julep.
Now that “small batch” bourbons are becoming popular, there are so many more choices for your Mint Julep recipes. Our “house” bourbons are Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare but we also keep Woodford Reserve on hand. Maker’s Mark isn’t stored in our liquor cabinet — it’s in our kitchen cabinet because we love it for cooking (bourbon-basted roast beef anyone?).
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a very famous brand of Tennessee Whiskey is bourbon — it’s not. Blasphemy!
For your Mint Juleps this year, we’d recommend Basil Hayden’s. Known as a good “starter” bourbon for new bourbon drinkers, it also mixes well and is, as they say, easy to drink. Here’s our recipe:
First thing: Make a simple syrup (just put a cup of sugar and a cup of water in a pan and boil until the sugar is dissolved. Store in your refrigerator for the week).
Next thing: Pick fresh mint from your lovely garden. Wash and dry very gently.
Third thing: Chip or crush your ice cubes. You do NOT want large cubes but you will want a lot of ice.
Fourth thing: Polish your sterling silver julep cups until they shine like the sun. (Just kidding. Grab a tall narrow glass.)
In the bottom of the glass pour 1 ounce of the simple syrup. Add a few crushed mint leaves. Muddle them (that means stir them around with a spoon) to release the fragrance of the mint into the syrup. IMPORTANT – Remove the crushed mint leaves.
Fill the glass with crushed/chipped ice. Add 2 1/2 ounces Basil Hayden’s. Stir to mix the bourbon and the simple syrup and to allow the ice to begin to melt.
Garnish with another sprig of fresh mint. Add a straw if you’re that kind of person.
Sip your julep while sitting on your veranda. Choose the horse you’ll be betting on in the big race on Saturday. Enjoy.
Our tip: Never bet on a horse with liquor in its name.