Thursday, June 25, 2009

gin julep

1 tbsp Sugar
2 1/2 tbsp Water
3-4 sprigs Mint
3 oz Gin (Boomsma Jonge Genever)

Add sugar and water, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add mint and lightly muddle to extract the oils. Strain into a julep cup (here, rocks glass) filled with crushed ice. Add gin, top off with more crushed ice, and garnish with a fresh mint sprig. Add drinking straw.
After thinking about the gulab sharbat cocktail that I had at Rendezvous, I remembered how the modern julep was derived from this Middle Eastern concept. While gulabs are made with water and rose petals, as the drink migrated to other parts of the world, more indigenous aromatic plants such as mint were used. And with the changing of botanicals, the Persian word gulab was converted into the French word julep. According to David Wondrich in Imbibe!, the first mention of an alcoholic mint julep in America was in 1802 in a letter from a William and Mary student who thought his fellow classmates indulged in them with excess. Jerry Thomas' The Bartender's Guide provides several recipes for juleps and the one that caught my eye on Monday night was the gin julep. In Jerry Thomas' day, the gin julep would have had Holland gin in it (first noted in 1828) which I interpreted as a Genever style and used our bottle of Boomsma's Jonge Genever accordingly. The mint for the drinks was harvested from the migratory mint colony that has sprung up twelve feet or so from the original mint patch.

The drink as one would expect was quite refreshing. The Genever gin added an interesting funkiness to the drink with its juniper-maltiness and slight harshness (relative to bourbon). Indeed, the gin-based julep is a very different creature from the more traditional bourbon one in some ways, but the sugar, ice, mint, and ritual do link the two together.

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