It was Kentucky Derby week when we recorded episode #40 so we had Mint Juleps and I’ve gotta say, not only are mint juleps refreshing, but they also are one of the more historied cocktails and one with a lot to talk about.
The first written reference to a mint julep was 1784 and it was considered medicinal. The word julep is derived from a Persian word meaning rose water and was the sweet carrier for medicine used to make the curative more palatable. Once again we see how American government spread a cocktail around the country as Senator Clay of Kentucky had them wherever he went in the 18th century in particular introducing them to the Round Robin Bar in Washington, DC. The mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938.
The drink is very simple. It’s primarily bourbon mixed with muddled mint, some syrup and soda. On ice this is extremely easy to drink. I am not a bourbon drinker and I found this beverage very enjoyable.
What I think is the best aspect of this cocktail is how it has a deep history as a type of medicine, not unlike Pink Gin, and it has transformed into something that is enjoyable on a grand scale at the Kentucky Derby, so much so that some people are will to spend $1,000 for a premium julep at the event (listen to the show to get the full gist of the story).