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Monday, May 4, 2009

The Joy of Juleps

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2009 at 10:24 AM

A carefully crafted julep is not only a work of art and a delectable evocation of those lazy summer days just over the horizon, it's one of the two or three greatest American cocktails. The hardest part of the preparation is the crushing of the ice, and since you'll probably become addicted to juleps by the end of the afternoon anyway, you might as well invest in an electric ice crusher. (Otherwise, wrap ice cubes in a towel and smash the hell out of them with a hammer.)

Place three or four mint leaves, a spoonful of superfine sugar, and a splash of water in the bottom of a sturdy tumbler or, better yet, a sterling silver mug. Muddle them together until you can smell the mint, then pack the tumbler to the top with crushed ice. Pour good bourbon over the ice to just below the rim (we like Woodford Reserve, but no true Southerner would sneer at Mr. Jim Beam), then chop away at the mint, sugar, ice, and bourbon with a long-handled spoon until thoroughly combined. Put the glass or mug in the freezer and let it get frosty and slushy for an hour or so.

Tuck a straw and a branch of mint into the ice, garnish the rim with a wheel of lemon, dust the mint leaves with powdered sugar, and sprinkle a few drops of cognac atop the ice for a nice introductory yowzah.

Caution: We're talking about a lot of liquor here, 8 ounces if you're using the right kind of glass, so sip the thing very slowly over the course of the afternoon, preferably in a hammock with a bowl of fried pecans at hand.

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Matthew Stafford


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