When I pulled out these really stunning mint julep cups, my DH said to me, “Uh, where did THOSE come from?” Blithely I said “Oh, I’ve had these for a couple of years, but we’ve never had an occasion to use them.” That was a true statement. He did think they were sterling silver (they’re not), and he thought they were probably ridiculously expensive (they weren’t). But I HAD kept them snugly tucked away in a cupboard. Obviously he wasn’t home when I brought them into the house, so I just put them away (cheeky grin). My DH doesn’t think I ever, in my entire life, need to buy one more THING for the kitchen. But he’s learned, that’s probably not going to happen. They’re silverplate. And cute as bugs. Or cute as baby mint leaves. And I own four of them. My friend Cherrie also owns four, so we combined assets and had ample for our Creole Jambalaya dinner party.
The recipe mostly came from the Food Network - but I did a slight variation. Since simple syrup (a necessity for juleps) was required, I wanted to make it with agave nectar instead. Why? No reason. Just because. So I patched together two recipes, the one from Sara Moulton, and another I found on the ‘net for an agave simple syrup.
What’s unique about this is that the mint leaves are infused in bourbon, then the whole mixture chills for hours or overnight. So the bourbon has a really good hit of mint before you even start. And everything gets good-and-chilled before you serve them. I liked this a LOT. I even made one more the next night with the little bit of leftover mint infusion. It was just as good; maybe better.
Now, I’m not much of a drinker of hard liquor. Despite the fact that you’ve read a few recipes here for some cocktails, I rarely drink them. That’s God’s honest truth. If I make them, I drink them, but I rarely make them. Does that make sense? But, last week I thought juleps would be perfect to serve before our feast of jambalaya, and they were. These go down easy. And I mean it - with the mint infusion, the agave/simple syrup, they slide. If you want them more powerful, add some more bourbon punch to it. I thought they were fine. Note that you sprinkle just a tad of powdered sugar on the top of the shaved ice and mint before serving. And now, my mint julep cups will go back into their clear plastic ziploc bag to retard tarnishing, and they’ll be returned to the dark corner in the dining room cupboard.
Mint Juleps with
Agave Nectar Simple Syrup
Recipe: Adapted from several recipes, the main one from
Sara Moulton, Food Network
Servings: 10 (a guess)
NOTES: The mint essence can vary (because of the season, the mint variety and the age of the mint) – once you make this, you may decide the minted bourbon requires more or less mint.
40 whole mint leaves
3 ounces bourbon
AGAVE SIMPLE SYRUP:
1/4 cup light agave nectar
2 tablespoons sugar
3/8 cup water
4 cups bourbon
shaved ice (about a cup per glass)
more mint leaves for garnish
powdered sugar garnish (optional)
1. MINTED BOURBON: Rinse and lightly dry the mint leaves with paper towels. Add leaves to a small bowl with the bourbon. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes (submerge the mint leaves completely). Squeeze the mint leaves gently, then lay them in a single paper towel, roll up and squeeze out fluid into the bourbon bowl. Dip the towel into the bourbon and squeeze again, extracting as much mint essence as possible. Do this several times. Discard mint and towel. Taste the mixture; if it’s not minty enough, repeat process with new mint leaves.
2. AGAVE SYRUP: Combine in a saucepan (or glass measuring cup for use in the microwave) the agave nectar, sugar and water. Bring the mixture barely BELOW a boil. You’re only aiming to dissolve the sugar. Stir, and set aside to cool.
3. JULEPS: In a non-metallic container combine the bourbon and simple syrup. Add about a tablespoon of the minted bourbon, stir, and taste. If there isn’t enough mint flavor, add another tablespoon of the minted bourbon. You’ll probably need somewhere between 2 and 3 tablespoons of the mint mixture for each batch. Stir Julep mixture and chill for 24 hours (covered). Stir again. In each glass (preferably a silver julep cup) fill half way with shaved ice. Add a few mint leaves, then fill further with more shaved ice until the glass/cup is mounded over the top with ice. Place a sprig of mint on the top. Pour in the bourbon mixture (about 2/3 full), add a straw (trimmed down so you almost have to put your nose in the mint in order to drink), and serve. Sprinkle top of ice with a dash of powdered sugar if desired.
Per Serving: 272 Calories; 0g Fat (0.0% calories from fat); trace Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 2mg Sodium.
A year ago: Caramelized Onion & Sage Puffs (an appetizer)