May 30, 2012

National Mint Julep Day

"They say that you may always know the grave of a Virginian as, from the quantity of julep he has drunk, mint invariably springs up where he has been buried." - Frederick Marryat

It's National Mint Julep Day!

My mom has taught me plenty of invaluable lessons throughout my life: "maintain a positive attitude," moisturize, "rest is best," to eat my weight in tomatoes if I want young looking skin, and that mint juleps are disgusting.

Heeding her advice (because mom's are always right), I've never had a mint julep. Then again, when would I have had the opportunity to do so? I live in New England. We don't drink light, refreshing beverages. We drink hearty, help-us-stay-warm/sane-through-six-months-of-winter beverages like coffee brandy and whole milk (no, seriously, we do; and it's street name is [sorry for the profanity] "fat ass in a glass" or "lard in a jar").

I was forced (woe is me, right?) to try a mint julep today, which are commonly made with just four ingredients: bourbon, water/ice, sugar, and mint leaf. Now, as a girl who loves a nice [bourbon] whiskey, loves to stay hydrated, has a sweet tooth, and likes fresh breath, I was actually kind of excited to try it.

While the drink is thought to have originated in the Arab world as a drink called "julab" (made from rose petals and water), in the eighteenth century the drink made it's way west and became a staple in the Southern diet... frequently it was consumed before breakfast to ward of malaria. In 1875, racetracks began offering mint juleps, which quickly became a very popular drink to have while watching ponies race, and - as they say - the rest is history.

Every year at the Kentucky Derby, more than 100,000 mint juleps are made with Early Times whiskey (which isn't even a bourbon, by the way) are served in commemorative pewter glasses folks get to keep. However, for a few bucks more (like $1000), one can purchase for a charitable cause a gold-plated cup filled with a higher-end mint julep using Woodford Reserve bourbon (the classier sister to Early Times), mint imported from The Emerald Isle, ice cubes made from Bavarian Alps springs, and sugar from Australia.

And now you're all the wiser, lushes foodies.

Now, if a mint julep is made just right, according to Kentucky legend, you can actually hear angels sing.

Lemme tell you...angels were singing alright, but I think that's because the restaurant I went to basically served me a a large pint glass of whiskey with some mint leaves as decorations.

Woooooooooohooooooo, the room is spinning.

Happy National Mint Julep Day!