The julep was originally a gin drink. Arrived stateside by way of Britain in the first half of the 19th century.
Kentucky Senator Henry Clay introduced the drink to Washington’s social elite around 1840.
And it was adopted by Churchill Downs as the official pick-me-up of the Derby in 1938.
Juleps are served in a pewter cup, which the drinker should hold by the top or bottom rim so as not to disturb the frost that accumulates around the cup’s exterior.
And it should be tippled slowly, allowing the ice to dilute the contents beneath.
If you want it the way they make it down Derby way, use spearmint, which is native to Kentucky and packs a more enduring punch than peppermint.
Whatever you do, don’t mix the two.
Here’s how Jim Betz, head bartender at Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park, mixes his.
Eleven Madison Park Classic Mint Julep
2½ oz minted (optional) Woodford Reserve*
½ oz mint turbinado syrup†
Build drink in a julep cup. Add crushed ice, swizzle and top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a generous amount of mint.
*Betz mints bourbon by mixing one liter of bourbon (Betz and the Derby use Woodford Reserve) and 35 grams of mint leaves in an ISI container. Have one? Charge twice with N20 without a discharge. Shake. Let stand for five minutes. Discharge the air back into the bottle and pour any liquid that escaped back into the ISI. Let stand for five minutes, or until the bubbles stop. Strain out any mint before using.
†Minted Turbinado Syrup is equal parts hot mint tea to turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw). Make a mint tea (15 g mint:16 oz. boiling water). Let stand for 3-5 minutes while tasting. Dont let it go bitter. Strain off flavored water into 16 oz. turbinado sugar and whisk until combined.