Mint juleps remind me not of the Kentucky Derby, but of croquet and drunk adults. Because for about the first 10 years of my life, my parents hosted a croquet party the first Saturday in June. Couples would be invited to attend and asked to wear all white, and they would start showing up at around 10:30am to sip mint juleps out of frosted silver cups, nibble on shrimp salad and macaroons, and play some unusually competitive croquet. And get pretty tipsy, of course.
But for me, the magic was what came before the guests arrived. I would watch our family friend Skipper make the mint juleps and peel shrimp with my mom while my father painstakingly measured out the three croquet courses and brushed up on his croquet rules (he was the official ref, after all). I loved all the chaos and delicious smells.
So I recently borrowed a few of my parents’ mint julep cups and made my own. Mint juleps are really easy to make and easy to drink, coming from someone who’s not a big mixed drink fan. Beware, though — they are pretty strong.
Ingredients (I’m spitballing here, this is to make about 8 mint juleps):
- 4 cups Bourbon
- At least 4 handfuls of mint
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- Crushed ice (or just regular ice, if you’re lazy like me)
The night before, pour bourbon into a big pot and add as much mint in there as you can. Let sit overnight to infuse the bourbon with a nice mint flavor.
The night before, or a few hours ahead of time, add sugar and water to a pot and heat on the stove until it boils, stirring constantly. This will be the simple syrup for the drinks.
Set simple syrup aside to cool.
Using a colander or cheesecloth, strain out the mint leaves from the bourbon.
Add the bourbon and simple syrup together in a pitcher, or you can keep them separate and add equal parts of each to a cup.
Add ice and a mint sprig to each cup, and enjoy.