Friday, May 3, 2013

Mint juleps and Hunter S. Thompson

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Ralph Steadman's illustrations from the Kentucky Derby article written by Hunter S. Thompson.
  • Ralph Steadman
  • Ralph Steadman's illustrations from the Kentucky Derby article written by Hunter S. Thompson.

"Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By midafternoon they'll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races," Hunter S. Thompson wrote of the Kentucky Derby in his infamous 1970 piece (which you can read in its entirety here).

The Bleacher Report says that race horses Orb (7-2 odds) and Verrazano (4-1 odds) are favored to win the 139th Kentucky Derby this weekend. You'll need a mint julep to complete the Kentucky Derby experience even if you don't have a horse in the race. The classic Southern bevvie is the perfect summertime sip.

According to Friday's Time Magazine article on mint juleps, the word "julep" comes from the Arabic word meaning "rose water." But the drink lost the roses and the water somewhere along the way.

The exact recipe varies, but one definition from the 1968 Dictionary of Drink and Drinking says this of the julep:

“The exact composition and making of a julep is a subject upon which any two Americans (one of whom is not necessarily a true Southenah, sah) are prepared to do verbal battle instanter.”

Every year, 120,000 mint juleps are consumed over the two days of the race, according to the Kentucky Derby website. And it takes 10,000 bottles of bourbon and 1,000 pounds of fresh mint to make.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe
Makes one drink

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
2 ounces Bourbon


Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Just remember not to drink too many, or you'll end up acting like what Thompson describes from the Derby as "a puffy, drink-ravaged, disease-ridden an awful cartoon version of an old snapshot in some once-proud mother's family photo album."

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