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
- 4 fresh mint sprigs
- 2 ½ oz bourbon whiskey
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
- 2 tsp water
- Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar, and water in a julep cup.
- 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.