life is delicious: mint tulip & mint julep

life is delicious: mint tulip mint julep

I work part-time at a lovely jewelry store that has been in business for many decades. Aside from the beautiful jewelry we carry a large selection of china and crystal. We also carry sterling silver serving pieces, accessories and beverage cups that bring to mind days gone by. One day, when I first began to work at the jewelry store, I was performing a necessary task in a store with many open shelves: dusting.

I never worked in a jewelry store and so I was unused to the pricing of the fine merchandise. I was dusting the shelves where the sterling silver cups sat. I lifted up a julep cup. I looked at the price tag. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Well, I thought, no wonder only the extremely wealthy have silver cups and serving pieces.

I had forgotten about the Julep cup until I was looking through the names of the Strawberry Shortcake characters that are the inspiration for our newest series “Life is Delicious”. Mint Tulip is a character from the Strawberry Shortcake cast of characters. She is named after the famous Mint Julep beverage. The character Mint Tulip is a Dutch girl from the land of Hollandaise. Her pet is a duck named Marsh Mallard. It was surprising to me to find a character who is clearly named after an alcoholic beverage, but that is where the connection ends.

The Mint Julep dates back to 1803 when a recipe appeared in a book by John Davis: “A dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.” It is not certain what spirituous liquor was used and given the recipe it seems that any liquor might do the job. Some food historians feel the drink dates back to the 1700’s. The origin of the drink is still fuzzy…something you will be if you have one too many of this potent beverage. It can be agreed upon, though; that this beverage was born in the southern states and that the word “julep” has a Persian origin, “golab” meaning rosewater.

I was raised in the north east. When Mint Julep was mentioned I’d often think of southern women sitting on a large Victorian porch dressed in their summer finery sipping a refreshing drink. Why I imagined this is beyond me, but the name, Mint Julep, seemed genteel. Little did I know that this beverage contained hard liquor and was a Kentucky Derby tradition.

In 1938, at Churchill Downs, Mint Julep was served in souvenir glasses. The glasses containing Mint Julep were sold for seventy-five cents. While other spirits may have been used to make the Mint Julep it is now traditional to use bourbon. A mainstay at the Kentucky Derby, Mint Juleps are sold by the hundreds of thousands each year. As for the silver cup…well, that should have a copper core in order to keep the contents of the cup chilled to the appropriate temperature.

Where to buy

Mint Julep

  • 4 fresh mint sprigs
  • 2 ½ oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp water

Directions

  1. Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar, and water in a julep cup.
  2. Fill the cup with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve with a straw.

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14 comments

  • June 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm //

    I have always wanted to try one of these as I’m fascinated by southern USA!

    Your photo looks so fresh, light and lovely, perfect for a hot summer day I imagine.

    • June 8, 2012 at 7:19 am //

      Thank you Emma =)

  • June 5, 2012 at 1:01 am //

    Nice back lighting on the photo. Minu Juleps are great. You can find silver-plate julep mugs at reasonable prices (~$25), but it’s hard to justify investing even that for just one drink. (I like Minut Juleps, but it’s one of those drinks I only have once every few years.) Good post – thanks.

    • June 5, 2012 at 7:37 am //

      YES, I couldn’t agree more. That is borderline obnoxious in prices (reminds me of “those” who bedazzle their benz or buy their wife/husband an island) definitely could think of other ways to spend the money. The only aspect that makes it possibly do-able is that they are not breakable but they are dent-able (lol)

  • June 5, 2012 at 2:36 am //

    Beautiful photo! WIsh I had a glass right now!

    • June 8, 2012 at 7:23 am //

      For some reason, a Mint Julep always reminds me of the phrase ” It’s hotter than a Cat on a a Hot Tin Roof”. Who was the actress who said that in one of her movies?

  • June 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm //

    lovely picture looks wonderful

  • June 5, 2012 at 8:27 pm //

    I recall my parents having a mint julep when I was younger. Their version didn’t have fresh mint, however, and was a strange green color. I love the sound of this one much better! Fresh mint add so much to summer cocktails.

    LOVE your photo!!

    • June 8, 2012 at 7:24 am //

      hmmm a strange green color..what could that be? Maybe midori? = )

  • June 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm //

    Hi There, Wow…this recipe of mint julep is looking so refreshing and Appetizing. A very well made post with beautiful pictures. I can’t wait to try it on my island. Have a wonderful week ahead.
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

    • June 8, 2012 at 7:24 am //

      Thank you Sonia, what island will you be sipping this from? = )

  • June 6, 2012 at 1:09 am //

    There are so many things that are “just right” about this post. Starting with the picture and ending with that boozy minty craving I am having at 9am this morning. Cheers. GREG

    • June 8, 2012 at 7:25 am //

      I like that saying “boozy minty craving” can I steal it? = )

  • June 13, 2012 at 7:20 am //

    I’ve never made a Mint Julep before, but I bought a variety of mint to grow in the garden that’s supposed to be the “official mint used in Kentucky mint juleps.” Or so the little stick in the pot says. :) So I’m going to have to try this when my mint plant can spare some leaves!