If you do only two things this weekend, it should be: watch the most exciting two minutes in sports and drink a mint julep, perhaps the most refreshing cocktail in drinkland. The Kentucky Derby is an American classic, and over the course of the two-day event (the lesser known Kentucky Oaks takes place today) over 80,000 mint juleps will be consumed. Having attended the Kentucky Derby several times (yes, big hat and all) I can attest that this estimate sounds a bit low.
The best mint julep that I’ve had in this city is found at Little Branch in the West Village, although I’m sure the bars I listed in my previous post about champagne cocktails all do a respectable version. I love Little Branch’s julep because they serve it brimming with crushed ice (which helps cool the bourbon faster and dilutes it better) and in the silver cup, which develops a lovely little frost on the outside.
2 tbsp. superfine sugar
10 spearmint leaves,
plus extra for garnish
1–2 tbsp. Simple Syrup
1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon
1. Put sugar on a plate. Moisten the rim of a glass (if you have a silver julep cup, that’s even better) with a damp towel. Press rim of glass into some of the sugar to coat.
2. Put leaves and simple syrup into glass. Crush leaves very gently with a pestle, just enough to bruise them. Fill to the brim with crushed ice, then pour in bourbon to cover ice. Stir one turn with a swizzle stick. Garnish with a leafy sprig of spearmint.