Beverages

A Julep So Cool It’s Blue

By Tim Ebner

As the heat and humidity hit this summer, skip the Manhattan and order up an ice-cold mint julep. Sure, this cocktail has several centuries of history in Kentucky, and it’s the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but it might also be the perfect remedy for a muggy D.C. afternoon.

mint-blulep-2

Nick Caruana runs a drinks site called The Straight Up, a Saveur 2014 finalist for best cocktail blog. Caruana says Kentucky Senator Henry Clay is credited with bringing the julep to our nation’s capital where he introduced the drink back in the early 1800s at the hotel where the Willard Intercontinental now stands. The Willard’s Round Robin bar still makes the julep according to Clay’s recipe, but for a summer refresh on this iced bourbon beverage, Caruana adds fresh blueberries.

He muddles mint and blueberries with Maraschino to create the base of his “Mint Blulep.” Then, he mixes bourbon (Woodford Reserve is his Kentucky standard), St-Germain, Creme Yvette and peach bitters over crushed ice. The result is a refreshing combination of fruit and herbal flavors.

“Taking a sip of it and then feeling the frosty cup will really help cool you down quickly,” Caruana says.

Don’t overlook the glassware. Juleps are a special drink for a special kind of glass. Caruana uses pewter julep cups, but highball or rocks glasses can work in a pinch. And, there’s no need to mound the ice over the rim, he says. It’s mainly for effect and might melt quickly on a summer day. Instead, use a few leftover blueberries and a sprig of mint to top off the drink.

The sweetness really makes or breaks the julep, Caruana says. Most people overcomplicate their syrups, but a good julep keeps the simple syrup simple, he says.

If anything, though, don’t let Senator Clay stop you from experimenting with the classic recipe.“ At its heart the drink is a Kentucky standard,” he says, “But D.C. has definitely helped to tweak and perfect it.”

Mint Blulep Recipe

  • 12 blueberries
  • 10 mint Leaves
  • ¾ ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • 2½ ounces bourbon
  • ¼ ounce St–Germain liqueur
  • 1 bar spoon Creme Yvette
  • 2 dashes Peach Bitters
  • 12 blueberries
  • 10 mint Leaves
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • Blueberries for garnish

Add the blueberries and mint leave to the bottom of a julep cup (a highball glass or rocks glass would also work). Top with the Maraschino, then generously muddle the mixture. Add the bourbon, St-Germain, Creme Yvette and peach bitters.

mint-blulep

Fill the cup with crushed ice, so that the ice fills the cup, but doesn’t mound up above the cup. Garnish with the mint sprigs, then add a few blueberries to the top of the drink to finish it off.

Notes about the ingredients: Crème Yvette is a liqueur made from parma violet petals with blackberries, red raspberries, wild strawberries and cassis, honey, orange peel and vanilla. St-Germain is a French liqueur made from elderflowers. These and the other special ingredients can be found at most spirits shops.… Read More

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