School has started this week for my boys (thankfully, I was very ready for that…) but sadly, those long warm summer days are beginning to fade. A fresh peach mint julep may be just what you need this weekend. My peach julep is a fun, refreshing drink that is perfect for sipping on as the seasons begin to change. A traditional mint julep is a bourbon drink that originated in the South long ago in the eighteenth century. It is also the cocktail most associated with the Kentucky Derby, the famous horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky in the Spring. The drink quickly got a reputation as an upper class beverage because it was served with ice, something only the wealthy had–not to mention the silver cup it was typically served it. (If you ready my previous post about Moscow Mules, you already know how I feel about fancy cups and mugs). The word “julep” originally derived from the Spanish word “julepe” meaning “rosewater.” Julep generally refers to a drink that is sweet. What I love about a julep is it’s versatility, what many don’t know, is that it can actually be made with not only bourbon but with brandy, gin, rye whisky or even cognac if you prefer.
Churchill Downs began promoting the Mint Julep cocktail in 1938. An estimated 120,000 are sold at the Kentucky Derby each year, which is pretty impressive given attendance of around 158,000. While there is a strong association between juleps and the Derby, I think this is a great, refreshing drink option that you can actually have throughout the year. Depending on where you are, peaches can be fantastic in August and September. Farmers markets will still have delicious small, sweet, almost purple looking organic ones like the ones I used here. This recipe is made with bourbon and has just a touch of fresh peach to complement the mint and the caramel notes typically found in bourbon. I am not actually a big bourbon fan, but a julep falls into a different category of its own and one I love. Maybe one of these days I’ll make my way to the Derby and have an official one there.
Peach Mint Julep
- 1 /2 fresh peach, peeled, pitted and small dice, plus a peach slice for garnish
- 10 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 2 1/2 ounces Woodford Reserve (or your preferred) bourbon
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
- Splash of seltzer
- Crushed ice
- Step 1 Place the diced peach, mint leaves and sugar in a cocktail shaker and muddle the ingredients together until most of the leaves begin to break down. Add a splash of seltzer water and the bourbon and shake vigorously to mix.
- Step 2 Fill an old-fashioned glass (or similar type) with a good amount of crushed ice. Add the bourbon mixture and top with an additional splash of seltzer.
- Step 3 Garnish with peach slice and mint.