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This Saturday is Derby Day. Whether you care who comes in win, place or show or don’t even know what win, place or show means, it's a good bet that you'll be drinking a mint julep.
This Saturday is Derby Day. Whether you care who comes in win, place or show or don’t even know what win, place or show means, it's a good bet that you'll be drinking a mint julep. While the pristinely simple cocktail is delicious in its original incarnation (bourbon, muddled mint, simple syrup and crushed ice), some creative bartenders think there’s room for improvement. Here, five new ways mixologists are putting their own spin on mint juleps.
With saffron. At New York City's Park Avenue Spring, bartender Bryan Schneider makes an aromatic and ultra-colorful Saffron-Minted Julep. Made with classic mix of bourbon, muddled mint and simple syrup, the drink features hand-crushed saffron-infused and mint-infused ices. The result: a mottled green and orange drink whose flavor evolves as the ice melts.
With gin. Brian Means of San Francisco’s Dirty Habit swaps out bourbon for Anchor’s Old Tom Gin (a slightly sweeter style of gin) in his Kitten Mintins. To make the light and seriously minty julep variation, he presses mint leaves in the bottom of a julep tin, then pours in the gin, Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe, Montifaud Pineau de Charentes (a French aperitif) and allspice bitters. He adds crushed ice, swizzles the cocktail to mix and tops off with more ice.
With watermelon. For an extra-fruity and summery take on a julep, The Third Man in New York City’s Alphabet City is offering a Watermelon Juelp (left). Created by manager Kasia Krupinska and bartender Erin Sullivan, the cocktail is made with fresh watermelon puree, mint, sugar and bourbon.
With Cynar. Bracing, bittersweet Cynar is the key to Ray Anguiano’s Herbaceous Julep at Chicago’s Atwood Restaurant. The cocktail also includes muddled mint leaves, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and Buffalo Trace bourbon. As an added twist, Anguiano shakes the cocktail and strains it into a coupe instead of serving it over crushed ice.
With mezcal. Named for 2015 Kentucky Derby contender Ocho Ocho Ocho, the Ocho Julep at Nantucket’s CRU Oyster Bar is made with Vida mezcal instead of bourbon. Created by cocktail director Kat Dunn, the smoky drink also features house-made ginger-infused agave and fresh muddled ginger and mint leaves.