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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Mint Julep Day

While mint juleps are associated more with the recent Kentucky Derby than Memorial Day, today is National Mint Julep Day.

“Julep” is a Middle English term for a sweet drink, derived sometime between 1350 and 1400 C.E. from the Arabic julab, which referred to rose water.

The mint julep originated in the American South in the 18th century, where it was made with bourbon or with genever (aged gin). The gentry served their mint juleps in silver or pewter cups, but a tall glass does just fine.

Today the gin has disappeared as an option. The ingredients of a mint julep are bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed or shaved ice—similar to a Mojito, which uses rum instead of bourbon.

Here are two recipes for mint juleps.

If you don’t like bourbon or want a change, here’s a variation of the mint julep from New York City’s 21 Club, called the South Side Cocktail. It uses a white spirit (gin, tequila, vodka, white rum) plus the addition of lemon juice.


A refreshing Mint Julep. Photo by Ampen | IST.



For one cocktail:


  • 2 ounces white spirit (gin, tequila, vodka, white rum)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • Ice
    1. Place all ingredients in a shaker, and shake vigorously to bruise mint leaves.

    2. Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice.

    As today is also Memorial Day, we toast to all who have fallen while, defending our country.


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