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Juleps Were Called Antifogmatics And Consumed In The Morning.

National Mint Julep Day is observed annually on May 30.  Each year, people around the country gather for a glass of mint julep! This refreshing southern classic is a traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby.

A classic mint julep is made with a mint leaf, bourbon, sugar and water. In the Southern states, where mint julep is more associated with the cuisine, spearmint is the mint of choice. Preparation of the drink may vary from one bartender to another.

  • It is believed that the mint julep originated in the southern United States sometime during the 18th century.
  • The term “julep” is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.
  • During the 19th century, Americans also enjoyed a gin-based julep.
  • Proper preparation of the cocktail is commonly debated, as methods may vary considerably from one bartender to another.
  • The mint julep may be considered as one of a loosely associated family of drinks called “smashes” (the brandy smash is another example, as well as the mojito), in which fresh mint and other ingredients are muddled or crushed in preparation for flavoring the finished drink.
  • Traditionally, mint juleps were often served in silver or pewter cups, and held only by the bottom and top edges of the cup. This allows frost to form on the outside of the cup.
  • The term “julep” is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.
  • The first appearance of a mint julep in print came in a book by John Davis published in London in 1803, where it was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”
  • The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
  • It takes 7,800 liters of bourbon and 2,250 pounds of locally grown mint to make the 120,000 Mint Juleps sold at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby weekend.
  • In May 2008, Churchill Downs unveiled the world’s largest mint julep glass. Churchill Downs, in conjunction with Brown-Forman, commissioned the Weber Group to fabricate the 6-foot  tall glass (7.5-foot if the mint sprig is included). The glass was constructed from FDA food-grade acrylic, heated and molded into the shape of an official 2008 Derby glass. It had a capacity of 206 US gallons, and distributed the Early Times mint juleps at the Derby with an elaborate pumping system concealed within the “stir straw.”
  • Woodford Reserve’s master distiller, Chris Morris, points out that “centuries ago, there was an Arabic drink called julab, made with water and rose petals. The beverage had a delicate and refreshing scent that people thought would instantly enhance the quality of their lives.” In the Mediterranean, indigenous mint replaced the rose petals and the “mint julep” rose in popularity.
  • Henry Clay introduced the drink to Washington in 1850.   The U.S. senator from Kentucky supposedly made the mint julep popular in Washington, D.C. at the Round Robin Bar. By some accounts, the bar at the Willard Hotel still uses Clay’s recipe to this day.
  • It became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1983.
  • Scarlett O’Hara approved of the smell.   That the mint julep is an icon of Dixie was not lost upon Margaret Mitchell when she knocked out her blockbuster Civil War novel Gone With The Wind in 1936.
  • Juleps and similar libations were called antifogmatics and were often consumed in the morning.    American author Samuel Goodrich explained that “in the Southern states, where the ague is so common and troublesome a malady, where fogs are frequent and dews heavy, it has grown the custom to fortify the body from attacks of the disease, by means of Juleps, or what are called antifogmatics.”
  • When crushed ice was added, the drink became known as the Hailstorm Julep.   That was sometime around 1830, when ice still was hard to procure, often transported from Boston or other Northern climes and protected in icehouses.


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