Bill Samuels' Perfect Mint Julep
Yesterday we met Rob Samuels, grandson of the creator of Maker's Mark Whiskey and current chief operating officer of the distillery. You would expect a family with such a rich, bourbon-soaked history to know a few good whiskey recipes -- and you'd be right. Rob's father, Bill Samuels Jr., perfected his Mint Julep recipe over years of experimentation. The recipe below serves 14-16 people and is perfect for a Kentucky Derby party (which is coming up on May 5). Make sure you get to work on your Juleps a day before you want to serve them -- the recipe takes more than a day to make, but the drink is worth every second.
1 liter Maker's Mark Bourbon
Lots of fresh spearmint
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
How to make it:
- To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves from their stems, then wash and place them in a small mixing bowl. Cover with 3 ounces of Maker's Mark and allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times. Set aside.
- To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a cooking pot. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.
- To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 ½ cups of Maker's Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker's Mark.
- Begin adding the mint extract a tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose. The tendency is to use too much mint. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste -- generally about 3 tablespoons.
- When you think it's right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to marry the flavors.
- To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) half-full with shaved ice. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup. Insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.
- When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice, add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice and serve.