The perfect mint julep for derby day. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

It’s the Derby weekend so herewith, again, my preferred method for making a great mint julep with a truly minty, clean taste and a color that announces what it is. You can use either a blender or a mortar and pestle (I prefer the latter for the mintiest flavor, pix and recipe here). Of course, I’m still fond of my first julep(s) made by still my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, and the story surrounding it. Blake was initially too mortified to be named at the time, but since he wrote about the event in his searing memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, the story is out.

Happy Derby Day, all!

(And don’t forget to have a look at my newest book, How to Saute: Foolproof Techniques and Recipes For the Home Cook. And feel free to enter the contest to win the three-book How To set being offered by my publisher here.)

The Aggressive Mint Julep

This is a make-ahead version so you don’t have to muddle mint for each guest. A Vita-Mix works best but a blender will do.

  • 5 to 10 mint leaves per serving plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons sugar per serving
  • 3 ounces bourbon per serving
  • plenty of crushed ice
  1. Combine the mint, sugar, and just enough bourbon to make a good puree of the mint with the blender running. Add the remaining bourbon, and blend some more. (If you have a mortar and pestle, use this method.)
  2. Strain the elixir through an All-Strain cloth or cheesecloth into a serving pitcher.
  3. To serve, fill glasses with crushed ice, fill with bourbon, and garnish with mint.


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© 2016 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2016 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.