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Bluegrass Julep (circa 1912)

  • ½ cup spring water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Handful of mint sprigs
  • Bourbon

Take a dipper of water from a limestone spring and dissolve enough granulated sugar in it to give a fine oily texture, then set it aside. Take a goblet of sterling silver (or in an emergency, a tumbler of cut crystal) and a single medium-sized leaf of mint, selected for succulent tenderness and plucked from the living plant not more than 10 minutes before. Using the back of a sterling silver spoon, bruise the leaf gently yet purposefully against the inside of the goblet and heap full of fairly fine-cracked ice made from limestone spring water. Pour straight bourbon whiskey slowly into the goblet, letting it trickle through the ice at its leisure until the vessel is almost full. Set aside for 1 minute. Add the sugared water, a tablespoon or so, until the goblet threatens to overflow. Garnish the rim with 3 freshly picked mint sprigs. Do not stir. Let stand in a cool springhouse or icebox until the frosting on the goblet or tumbler is thick. Sip slowly; don’t use a straw. Between sips, think of someone you love.

Eugene Walter on the cover of The Happy Table of Eugene Walter: Southern Spirits in Food & Drink, edited by Donald Goodman & Thomas Head, 2011.




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