Your Mint Julep Needs Maple Syrup

Your Mint Julep Needs Maple Syrup
Photo: Claire Lower

I’ve only been a homeowner for a few months, and let me tell you: this house is just full of surprises. Some are bad, like the fact that the previous owners didn’t put any insulation in between the glass stove top and the counter; but some are good, like the mint growing in the yard.

Now, I know what you are going to say — mint that is planted in the ground will take over the yard. I’m fine with that. There’s also a cactus back there, and I’m curious to see what happens when they finally meet. Plus, a lot of mint is not a bad thing, because mint tastes good, especially in cocktails.

Even though I am “Southern,” and my mum went to school in Kentucky, I do not come from a line of bourbon drinkers. My family tree is full of moonshiners, tea totalers, and Catholics — and one of my grandmothers used to make her own fig wine — but bourbon is just another bottle of booze, not part of anyone’s identity.

Maybe that’s why I’m not particular about the type of sugar that goes into my Mint Julep. I do like Juleps a lot — even though I’ve never watched or participated in any sort of derby — but those sweetened with simple syrup are just as valid as those made with powdered sugar in my eyes (and mouth). This is probably scandalous information to someone, but this openness is what led me to try a maple-sweetened Mint Julep, at the urging of A.A. Newton, and it was a great decision.

Similar to a maple Old Fashioned, a maple Mint Julep is just a little more interesting tasting that its sucrose-sweetened counterpart. It’s a little richer, a little more complex, and — thanks to maple’s lack of any real viscosity — easy to mix. To make it, you will need:

  • 8-10 mint leaves, depending on their size and potency, plus more for garnishing
  • 15 mL maple syrup
  • 60mL bourbon (I used bottled-in-bond, since crushed or pellet ice melts pretty quickly)

Add the mint and syrup to a lowball or Julep glass (if you have one) and muddle the mint. Add the bourbon, fill the glass with crushed or pebble ice, and stir everything in the glass until it becomes chilled. Add more ice to form a little dome at the top of the drink, then stick a few more mint leaves in there for a garnish.

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