Mint Julep · The Smoke Shop BBQ

By Eric Twardzik · 09/25/2020

A rack of ribs isn’t the only thing The Smoke Shop BBQ takes seriously. When it comes to making a Mint Julep, beverage director Michael Boughton follows a simple but exacting recipe.

“This recipe that I use for a Mint Julep has never failed me,” Boughton says. “The trick for the perfect Julep is dilution. The crushed ice is as much of an ingredient as the mint or the whiskey.”

In Boughton’s method, the key is to add crushed ice to the drink gradually rather than all at once, stirring it between additions.

“The gradual addition of ice allows for proper dilution of the whiskey while simultaneously chilling and frosting the metal Julep cup to ensure that your cocktail remains cold from the first to last sip,” he says.

To make finely crushed ice at home, Boughton recommends picking up a canvas Lewis bag and a wooden mallet from local cocktail specialty store The Boston Shaker. These cartoonish tools are remarkably easy (and fun) to use.

Another key step in the process is muddling either superfine sugar or simple syrup with mint leaves, which will release the mint’s flavorful and aromatic oils. Just remember to be gentle.

“Try not to over muddle or you’ll end up tearing the leaves and getting shrapnel in your or your guests’ teeth,” Boughton says.

Nobody wants that—particularly if you’re already dealing with rib debris.

Mint Julep
1½-2 cups ice cubes, crushed
2 ounces Maker’s Mark bourbon
1 heaping teaspoon caster/superfine sugar, or ¾ ounce simple syrup
4-5 large mint leaves
Mint sprig, for garnish
1/8 teaspoon powdered sugar, for garnish

Add ice to a Lewis bag and strike with a wooden mallet until crushed. In a Julep cup, add mint and sugar (or simple syrup) and lightly muddle. Add bourbon and ½ cup of crushed ice. Stir for 10 seconds, then add another ½ cup of crushed ice. Repeat until the sides of the Julep cup have frosted over and ice has nearly reached the brim. Top with remaining ice to form a small mound, then “plant” mint sprig into the mound and dust its leaves with powdered sugar. Add a short, thin straw to serve.

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