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The Mint Julep

A Southern Tradition

No cocktail is more often associated with the southern states than the Mint Julep. Whether in fiction or in reality, the most charming stereotype of the residents of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, is that of ladies and gentlemen seated around a table, each with a mint julep in their hand. The image, at least according to William Faulkner, is complete only "if the table is set in the middle of an unimaginably large, perfectly green lawn". If carried to its literary extreme, no matter how hot the day, the men will be wearing suits and ties and the women will be wearing long dresses, unspeakably high heeled shoes and large flowered hats.

The qualities of the mint julep are legendary. In 1892, Judge Soule Smith proclaimed, "The Honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul. Even the nectar of the Gods is tame beside it". Even after living in New York City for many years, Truman Capote wrote that "there is nothing better than a mint julep to bring relief from the pressures and pains of summertime". And, because the drink is as popular today in Florence and Madrid as it is in Atlanta, it is difficult to disprove the claim of thirty million people who feel that the mint julep is the world's most civilized and refreshing drink.

The Proper Way to Make a Mint Julep

To make a perfect mint julep place 1 1/2 teaspoons of confectioners' sugar and 5 or 6 sprigs of mint in a tall cocktail glass that has a capacity of between 8 and 8 1/2 ounces. Add 1 tablespoon of cold water and, with a wooden spoon mix well making sure to crush the leaves somewhat during the mixing process. Fill the glass almost to the top with shaved ice, packing it down firmly. Pour in 3 tablespoons of bourbon and, with a long-handled bar spoon, use a chopping motion to mix it with the ice. Dry the outside of the glass with a paper towel and place the glass in the freezer for 1/2 hour. When served, the glass should be frosted and the ice inside almost solid.

When removing the glass from the freezer, avoid touching the outside of the glass with bare hands so that it remains frosted (use a kitchen towel or a napkin to handle the glass). Garnish the drink with 2 slices of lemon, stick 2 sprigs of mint into the ice and sprinkle the mint with 1/2 teaspoon of confectioners' sugar. Sprinkle the sugar with 2 or 3 drops of brandy and serve with a long straw.

Mint juleps are sometimes served in silver or pewter mugs because these frost better than glass. Be sure to serve the drinks on a napkin so that when the frost on the glass melts it will not drip on the table.

At Glass With a Twist, we offer engraved cocktail glasses, all of which can be personalized with your own text or graphic. From custom highball glasses to traditional hurricane glasses, we have the perfect custom glasses for Mint Juleps.