Next time I invite my friends to an outdoor party, I’m going to serve Mint Juleps. After trying other drinks like Pinacoladas or Margaritas, The VIRGINIA SHOPPER has discovered that summer entertaining with the wonderful chilled goodness of a traditional ‘julep can leave guests feeling cool and very, very happy. I can visualize my guests sipping in the shade of a Magnolia tree like in the days of Gone with the Wind and old southern plantations – that is, if I only had a Magnolia tree.
How to Serve the Southern Drink of Drinks – Planning for my Mint Julep Party, The VIRGINIA SHOPPER went sleuthing to find out how to serve ‘em, what’s in ‘em, and maybe some of their history (for the sake of conversation). To do it right, the first rule is to serve these drinks in Pewter Mint Julep cups, or silver if you don’t mind polishing, or even glass. But, pewter remains the vessel of choice.
Why Pewter? – The versatility of pewter is the main reason. It’s the warm glow and patina, and of course, pewter never needs polishing like silver. Want history? Pewter drinking cups were inspired by beakers once owned by George Washington and there is a Jefferson Cup available today that is patterned after the one originally used at Monticello that was made under Jefferson’s direction. Talk about conversation pieces!
Pewter cups are also ideal for either formal or laid-back occasions. They not only add a casual feeling to outdoor entertaining, but bring sheer sophistication to more formal events. My niece is getting married in a few months and she discovered that pewter Mint Julep cups make delightful party favors. She plans to fill them with freshly cut flowers for each place setting, as well as to cluster them for stunning centerpieces.
How to Hold a Mint Julep Cup? – Have you ever heard of a rule for holding a cup? Well there is one. It’s kind of like a Mint Julep “rule-of-thumb”. You are only supposed to hold this cup by its bottom and top edges! Why you ask? So frost will form and build up on the larger outside surface. Holding the cup by its sides means the heat from your hand can make the drink too warm. The object after all, is to keep you cool, calm and collected, if not happily sloshed, when the weather outside is just plain hot.
True Conversation Trivia – Here’s an icebreaker to start conversation going: The racetrack known as Churchill Downs is famous for unveiling the world’s largest mint julep glass, 6 feet tall and in the shape of an official 2008 Derby glass. It can hold 206 gallons of mint juleps dispensed via a complicated pumping system.
And of course, the Kentucky Derby is where 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs during two days of racing.
How to Make a Mint Julep – They still make ‘juleps with the traditional bourbon, sugar, water, and a mint garnish. Mint is supposed to enhance the flavor with its aroma. Every bartender has a slightly different way to make this unusual drink and nobody really knows where it originated, but here’s a traditional Southern recipe:
Ingredients: About 20 mint leaves; 2 tsp sugar; 2 to 3 oz. bourbon; plenty of crushed ice. Instructions: Put mint leaves and sugar in a pewter Mint Julep cup. Muddle leaves and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add bourbon and stir. Fill a pewter cup with crushed ice and stir until an icy frost develops on the outside of the cup. Garnish with additional mint leaves or a whole sprig and serve immediately. Makes one Mint Julep Cocktail.
CONCLUSION: You don’t have to live at Tara or go to the Kentucky Derby to enjoy this summer drink. You don’t even have to have a Magnolia tree.
RECOMMENDATION: Be sure and send me an invitation to your Mint Julep Party!! I know it will be a smash hit.
‘TIL WE MEET AGAIN….The VIRGINIA SHOPPER