Southern Cocktail With a Twist: Lemongrass Mint Julep

According to Merriam-Webster, a julep is a nectarous syrup, sometimes mixed with alcohol or medicine. (And who wouldn't be cured by that?)

You have to admit there is a certain romantic appeal to pre-prohibition cocktails. A mint julep, the Kentucky Derby classic, would be on the top of that exceptional list. The original recipe, according to Tom Bullock (1917) author of, The Ideal Bartender, went something like this:

Use a large silver mug
Dissolve 1 lump of sugar in a 1/2 pony of water
Fill mug with ice
Add 2 jiggers of Bourbon whiskey
Add 1 bouquet of mint, stir well and serve

That being said, the Churchill brothers (of famous Kentucky Derby racetrack Churchill Downs) would roll over in their graves if they knew the twists we accomplished with this vintage cocktail. Just one tantalizing sip will make you so euphoric, you'll be willing to bet your thoroughbred on the race.

Lemongrass Mint Julep

Lemongrass simple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup washed and finely chopped lemongrass (we bought ours here)

This makes the whole room smell like lemon grass. You're welcome.
This makes the whole room smell like lemon grass. You're welcome.
Photo by Anais Alexandre

Place lemongrass simple syrup ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan and stir ingredients together until sugar has dissolved over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, then pour into a heat-proof container and leave to cool for approximately one hour. Once cooled, strain lemongrass syrup and dispose of the lemongrass pieces. Set syrup aside.

This syrup would taste good on anything.
This syrup would taste good on anything.
Photo by Anais Alexandre

Lemongrass Mint Julep
In a frosted glass of your choosing add:
1 fluid ounce (a shots worth) Whiskey
1/4 cup lemongrass syrup
3-4 fresh mint leaves (sweet basil would make a unique alternative)
5-7 large ice cubes (enough to fill the glass halfway)
Stir, taste and enjoy.

Some Southern purists would shudder to hear of anything other than the original constituents being used for this recipe. There are endless debates on which mint species is best to use, and perpetual tirades on simple syrup versus sugar cubes.

We admit, following rules has never been our strong suit, so we shall leave them to their puritanical ways while we sit back and enjoy the horse races with this glassy cup-of-choice cocktail.

Perfectly sweet and aromatic.
Perfectly sweet and aromatic.
Photo by Anais Alexandre

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