Friday's Featured Cocktail: The Mint Julep

Tomorrow is Derby Day so of course Friday's Featured Cocktail is the classic mint julep.  

To get it right, Kentucky-style, you need to prepare the simple syrup today.  Follow this recipe for simple syrup.  When the syrup has cooled, throw in a bunch of fresh mint, to steep.  Cover the container and place it in your refrigerator.  

Now here's where the art of the julep comes into play:  You need to remove the mint before it breaks down and clouds the syrup -- but you want to leave the mint in place as long as possible to flavor the syrup.  The proper time depends on the freshness of the mint and other factors (we think).  Typically we check the concoction after six hours.  If the mint still appears strong, leave it in syrup.  If it's getting limp or starting to disintegrate, get it out of there.  

(Dedication to the perfect julep may require a middle of the night visit to the fridge.  We've done it many times.)

When you've removed the mint from the mix, you'll be left with a wonderfully infused mint syrup.  

Now let's talk about ice.  Crushed ice is by far the best.  If you can't procure crushed ice, then the smaller the cubes, the better.  

Fill a julep class with your ice, then add one ounce of the mint syrup and two ounces of quality Kentucky bourbon, for example Woodford Reserve or Maker's Mark.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.  

We like to add a straw, cut down a couple of inches so the drinker's nose is practically in the mint.