In certain parts of the country – namely Kentucky and environs, the Mint Julep is sacrosanct. Whiskey – we’re talking Bourbon and nothing but — mint, simple syrup, and ice.
And on Derby Day, the Julep will reign in all its glory at Churchill Downs. For a lucky few with deep pockets, there will even be a $1,000 Mint Julep Victory Cup, engraved with roses and gold-plated crest.
Here at Chilled, we understand the importance of tradition, but we also embrace the new and different. So, while we find the classic Julep to be perfect as it is, we also love how bartenders tinker with perfection. Many of the Juleps here start with Bourbon and mint, but after that, it’s anybody’s game. Ancho Reyes and Cynar, St. Germain and Chartreuse. If this were a horserace, it would be anyone’s game.
Almond Lavender Milk Punch
Courtesy of Claire Thomas of The Kitchy Kitchen
Makes: 6 drinks
- 3 cups Un-sweetened almond milk*
- 3/4 cup Bourbon
- 1/4 cup Lavender syrup*
Preparations: Combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher and chill. When ready to serve, add ice, stir, and pour.
- 1/4 cup White sugar
- 1/4 cup Hot water
- 1 tbsp. Dried lavender flowers, lightly crushed
Preparations: Combine the ingredients in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let the mixture sit for at least 20 minutes so the lavender can steep. Strain into a container and cool.
*Homemade Unsweetened Almond Milk
Makes: 3 cups of Milk
- 1 cup Raw almonds, preferably organic
- 2 cups Water, plus more for soaking
- 1 Vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 Pinch of sea salt
Preparation: Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with about an inch of water. They will plump as they absorb water. Let stand, uncovered, overnight or up to two days. The longer the almonds soak, the creamier the almond milk. Drain the almonds from their soaking water and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water. Combine the almonds, vanilla seeds, lavender, pinch of salt, and water in a blender. Blend at the highest speed for two minutes until the almonds are a very fine meal and the liquid is opaque.
Line the strainer with cheese cloth, and place over a bowl. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer. Press all the almond milk from the almond meal. Gather the nut bag or cheese cloth around the almond meal and twist close. Squeeze and press with clean hands to extract as much almond milk as possible. If you want a thicker almond milk, you can add some of the almond meal back into the liquid.
Refrigerate almond milk. Store the almond milk in sealed containers in the fridge for up to two days. It will separate, so shake before drinking.
Courtesy of John Stanton, Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chicago
- 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon
- 1/2 oz. Cocchi Americano
- 1/2 oz. Péche de Vigne liqueur
- 1/4 oz. Demerara syrup
- 1 Mint sprig, for garnish
Preparation: Add ingredients to a julep cup. Muddle the mint. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig.
Fig and Walnut Julep
Courtesy of Fig and Olive
- 2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon
- 3/4 oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
- 1/2 oz. Lime juice
- 1/4 oz. Taylor tawny port
- 1/4 oz. Simple syrup
- 2 Black figs (muddled)
- 3 Mint leaves
- 2 Slices of fig, 1/4-inch thick, for garnish
- Grated walnut, for garnish
- 1 Mint sprig, for garnish
Preparation: Cut mint sprig to about 4 to 5 inches long (long enough so it will be able to peak over the edge of the rocks glass). You will have to strip the mint off each sprig until you have just 3 to 4 smaller leaves at the top of the mint for garnish. The rest of the leaves (3) will be used in the cocktail.
For the simple syrup, you will need to heat one cup of water and bring slightly to boil. Add 1/2 cup sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and let cool.
Directions: Using a mixing glass (Boston) or a 2 piece shaker, combine Black Mission figs, port, simple syrup, and lime juice; muddle into a nice paste. Add three mint leaves, Bourbon, and St. Germain. Add ice and shake vigorously for about 8 to 10 seconds so the ingredients can infuse. Strain contents over ice in an Old Fashion or rocks glass. Cut a fig in half and make two nice slices about 1/4 inch thick from it and garnish cocktail. Grate some walnut over drink and add a mint sprig.
Courtesy by Ray Anguiano, Atwood Restaurant, Chicago
- 1 1/4 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- 3/4 oz. Cynar Liqueur
- 1/2 oz. Rich simple syrup
- 1/4 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 4 Mint leaves, muddled
- Mint sprig, for garnish
Preparation: Add all the ingredients in a shaker. Shake, then fine strain and pour into a coupe glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Courtesy of Brian Means, Dirty Habit, San Francisco
- 1 1/2 oz. Anchor Old Tom gin (you can also sub in bourbon or rye whiskey)
- 1 oz. Montifaud Pineau des Charentes Blanc
- 1/4 oz. Tempus Fugit crème de menthe
- 3 Mint leaves
- 3 dashes Allspice bitters
- Mint sprig, for garnish
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
Preparation: Gently press the mint leaves in the bottom of a glass or julep tin. Add all the other ingredients and fill the mixing glass up with shaved ice, up to about a third of the way full. Swizzle with a bar spoon or swizzles stick to chill and dilute. Fill up with more shaved ice. Garnish with mint sprig and powdered sugar on top.
The Mile High Julep
Courtesy of Shawn Chen, Red Farm’s Decoy
- 1 3/4 oz. TINCUP American Whiskey
- 1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes chile liqueur
- 1/2 oz. Ginger syrup
- 1/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice
- 6 to 8 Mint leaves
- Sugar, for garnish if desired
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a Julep tin, including hand-clapped mint. Add crushed ice and churn until mixed thoroughly and the outside of the tin has frosted. Garnish with a large mint sprig and some sugar sprinkled over the mint and the ice.
Spicy Mint Julep
Courtesy by Brandon Lockman, Red Star Tavern, Portland, OR
- 1 1/2 oz. House Spirits White Dog un-aged whiskey
- 1/2 oz. Jjalapeño-infused green Chartreuse
- 1/2 oz. Combier crème de péche
- 1/4 oz. Honey water (1:1 honey:water)
- 10-15 Mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Preparation: Press mint in a glass (julep cup preferred) with honey water. Fill glass 3/4 full with crushed ice. Add whiskey and chartreuse. Gently stir to combine mint and honey from the bottom of the glass. Top off glass with more crushed ice to form an “ice dome.” Pour crème de péche evenly over the dome. Garnish with a leafy sprig of mint.
Swizzle & Coin
Courtesy of by Chris Burmeister, Goodbar, Goleta, CA
- 1 oz. Fernet Branca
- 1 oz. Carpano Bianco
- 1/2 oz. Cane syrup
- 1/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
- 10 Mint leaves
- Splash ginger beer
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
Preparation: Add all ingredients to old fashioned glass and fill halfway with cracked ice, then swizzle. After properly diluted, top off with cracked ice and splash of ginger beer and garnish with two big mint sprigs.