Few cocktails are as inextricably linked with an event as the mint julep is with the Kentucky Derby. But even if horse racing isn’t your thing, the julep is a killer cocktail, one that’s well-worth learning how to make (if only to impress folks at parties.) Mint, bourbon and tons of crushed ice—it could hardly be improved upon.
Here’s the biggest mistake people make with juleps: They smash the hell out of that mint. What did the mint do to deserve that? Over-muddling makes mint bitter. Instead, you want to lightly massage the mint with a muddler to press out its oils, which contain all that flavor and aroma.
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Good crushed ice is key, too. There are a few ways to go about this: A purpose-built ice crusher, your freezer’s built-in ice crusher or a powerful blender. If you don’t have any of the above, don’t worry; just take a clean kitchen towel, fill it with ice and whack repeatedly with a hammer, mallet or meat tenderizer. Presto! Crushed ice.