Top Shelf Help: Getting Down and Derby with the Beer Julep

Food & Drink

In preparation for the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, what’s better than a refreshing spin on the classic Southern drink: The Mint Julep? Quit horsing around and place your bets on the Beer Julep as the winning signature cocktail of Derby watch parties everywhere.

The Beer Julep

We’ve teamed up with Minneapolis-based restaurant and brewery The Freehouse to bring you the most refreshing cocktail of spring patio season.

What to use:

  • 6 mint leaves
  • .75 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1.25 oz Bulleit Rye
  • .25 oz Lime Juice
  • Freehouse’s #2 IPA*
  • 3 dashes Angostura
  • Clapped Mint Sprig

*Outside of the greater Minneapolis area, substitute your citrusy IPA of choice. Better yet, have your favorite amateur brewmaster give your Beer Julep a special touch with a homemade IPA.

How to use it:

In a rocks glass, combine the lime juice, simple syrup, whiskey and smashed mint leaves in a mixing pint with ice. Cap with a Boston Shaker and shake. Strain over fresh ice, and top with IPA and 3 dashes of Angostura. Garnish with mint sprig.

julep / joo-lep (noun)
The meaning of the word “julep” is a sweet drink that is traditionally a vehicle for medicine. It was only served during Prohibition by apothecaries to cure an uneasy stomach. We say a cold, sweet and minty drink on a warm spring day is just what the doctor ordered. It also gives new meaning to the phrase “belly up to the bar.”

Jamaican a French, or American drink?
As American now as baseball and hot dogs, the debut of this classic drink was first recorded in 1793. Before the American Civil War, the favorite spirit used in a mint julep was not whiskey, but rather French cognac, and with a little Jamaican rum floated on top. Rum—also that word, when misunderstood, mistakenly lands you that 5k t-shirt you never wanted.

Get smashed
The mint julep is often associated with a type of drink preparation called “smash,” in which mint or other ingredients are ground up and added for flavor. Along with The Hulk when angry, a mint julep and the mojito share this characteristic. Coincidentally, after a few of these strong drinks, it’s a word that also may be associated with you.

You got served
Traditionally, mint juleps were often served in pewter or silver cups, and held only by the top edges or bottom of the cup. This is done mostly to look awkward holding a drink, but also to maintain the cup’s frosty coating and cold temperature. Today, mint juleps are commonly served in a tall old-fashioned glass, Collins glass, or highball glass with a straw.

Ice, ice, baby
Back in the day, people who drank juleps usually had a mint to spend. First, if you could afford to enjoy this drink you had money—the silver cup it was served in, alone, was spendy. Second, having access to ice or owning ice houses was a sign of wealth in the South. And to think, the contents of your freezer could have made a killing on eBay. PRO-TIP: For a smoother sip, try giving the cocktailing gentleman a Tovolo Ice Sphere Mold, which certainly breaks the mold of traditional gifts for men.