The Mint Julep has been around for over 200 years, making it nearly twice as old as the world’s second-best bourbon-infused treasure, Keith Richards. In The Essential Cocktail, Dale DeGroff says the bracingly cold Julep is “the first internationally known American cocktail.” But it wasn’t always the drink we know today. When the Julep debuted in the late 18th century, the drink was made with peach brandy and Cognac (given that bourbon didn’t exist yet, this makes a certain amount of sense). It wasn’t until a century later that whiskey-based Juleps became all the rage, particularly in the American South. The Mint Julep was named the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, and it’s estimated that 125,000 are sold every year at Churchill Downs, contributing to Hunter S. Thompson’s famous assessment of the event as “decadent and depraved.”
Mix it Up
Muddle in some fresh peaches when they’re in season. Swap in maple syrup for simple. And for those who love the flavor but find the strength too much, you can shake a julep over ice, then serve it long with seltzer or iced tea over ice.
Essentially a minty gin Daiquiri, the Southside is a remarkably easy four-ingredient cocktail that should be a go-to for every home bartender. Though most cocktail buffs and historians agree that the drink first appeared sometime around 1913, its exact history is murky. The Southside was either created in Chicago and named for the city’s South Si...