Drink of the Week: Mint Julep

Yes, it is totally the wrong time of year for this minty spring sip. However, since I was lucky enough to sample a lovely, strong version of the Mint Julep at Booker’s Crab Shack during a recent TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) meetup, I wanted to share it now instead of saving it for Derby Day.

Besides, bourbon is a nice, dark fall spirit, and I’m taking a gamble that the star ingredient, mint (which is joyously available in Calgary all year long), will evoke images of candy canes, not Kentucky blue grass. It’s a stiff sip and somewhat of an acquired taste, but stick with it — as the ice melts and dilutes the bourbon, you will find your minty-sweet happy place.

The taste of boozy candy cane in a glass? You decide.

Mint Julep

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1/2 oz mint simple syrup*
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig garnish

Pack a julep cup with crushed ice. Add bourbon and simple syrup, then swizzle a straw around in the ice to mix. Slap a mint sprig against your hand to release the essence, then poke the stem into the ice-hole where your straw was, as a garnish. Poke a new hole with the straw and serve. (This sounds like a lot of work and just the kind of task your seven-year-old will want to help with. Be sure and supervise or she might get a little sippy with your julep.)

*Mint simple syrup

  • 2 bunches mint, stems removed, set aside enough sprigs for garnishes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water

Combine sugar and water and heat until the sugar is dissolved (be careful not to bring to a boil). Pour the syrup over the mint leaves in a bowl and let steep for 20 minutes. Using a fine strainer, remove mint from syrup, then cool syrup and refrigerate (discard the mint).

— Recipe courtesy Booker’s Crab Shack


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