As the weather warms up, I'm always surprised by the number of people that tell me they don't drink whiskey in the warmer months. As a huge whiskey fan, I don't understand that philosophy. Nobody's asking you to down a glass of warm Scotch on a hot summer's day. There are a plethora of amazing warm weather whiskey drinks. The Mint Julep being one of my favorites.
In the warm days of summer, for me, there is nothing better than a cocktail that is both refreshing and a bit stiff. The Julep pretty much consists of a whole lotta Bourbon, and some sugar. The mint gets muddled in there, but I have seen recipes where you don't do that, so the mint just gets relegated to a garnish. Either way you look at it, it's a pretty strong drink. What helps soften it out, and make it refreshing is a ton of crushed ice. If you're tackling 2 1/2 - 3 ounces of Bourbon, you want to find a way to stretch that out a bit, and that's where the ice comes in.
For this variation, I wanted to use a spring ingredient that not only made the drink a pretty color, but gave even more of a freshness to it. With it's tart tanginess, Rhubarb seemed the perfect fit. Plus, there is Rhubarb everywhere in the stores right now and I adore it's flavor. The season for it is only a few month long, so I like to get as much of it as I can and make it into syrups, shrubs, liqueurs, etc. so that I can stretch out the gloriousness of it's flavors.
Derby Day is coming up, and I wanted to make a fun variation for those of you who are looking to serve up something a bit different at your parties this year. All the fun of putting on your craziest hats and getting all gussied up like a southern lady is always fun, and made even more special with a great drink. Enjoy!
Rhubarb Mint Julep
- 2 1/2 oz Bourbon (I used Old Forester)
- 1/2 oz Rhubarb Syrup*
- 3 sprigs Mint
Add 5 - 6 mint leaves to the bottom of your pre-chilled 12 oz glass, or Julep Cup. Muddle lightly with Rhubarb Syrup. Add crushed ice to glass. Pour Bourbon over top and stir briskly until the glass frosts over. Add more ice to form a mound on top, add a straw and mint sprigs. Make sure the mint is close to the straw so that you get that fresh aroma of the mint with each sip. To release more of the essential oils in the mint, give them a little slap in the palm of your hand before placing them in the glass.
- 2 cups Rhubarb
- 1 1/2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Water
Chop Rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces and add them to a pot with the sugar and water. Bring everything to a boil. Stir well and turn the mix down to simmer. Continue to stir for a few minutes. You want the Rhubarb to release it's color as much as possible, so the stirring helps incorporate the flavors, but mostly it helps the skin release from the stalk of the Rhubarb so that the color permeates the syrup fully. Remove from heat and let rest 20 minutes. Strain out the solids and store liquid in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge.