The Real Mint Julep: How to make 'em, how to drink 'em

EXTREME HEAT...That's the forecast for all of us down here on the Gulf of Mexico. Calls for extreme measures..........................like a Mint Julep in hand.
I've carried around a tattered recipe on newsprint since 1994 for these Mint Juleps.
The recipe is from Suzanne Hamlin/The New York Times. I love her description of a true Mint Julep: "A mint julep, at its purest and grandest, is simply the best bourbon, a little sugar and mint and water, a lot of crushed ice and the heady aroma of a generous sprig of spearmint.
A real mint julep made in a Kentucky home is almost invariably served in a small, frosted silver julep cup, a cup so cold it paralyzes your hand in place.
When it's right, a mint julep smells and tastes like Kentucky, like the bluegrass that covers the horse farms of Lexington, like the magnolias and dogwood in bloom right now, like the white linen suits that men used to wear and, most of all, like Kentucky bourbon, the complex, earth, caramel brown, smoky, sweet, rich spirit that has, in no small part, fueled the economic history of the state."

The Mint Julep
1 bunch fresh spearmint, washed, dried, stems on
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
6 teaspoons chopped mint, optional
6 heaping cups crushed (not shaved) ice
1 1/2 cups Kentucky bourbon
6 large mint sprigs for garnish

1. Put the bunch of spearmint into a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil without stirring, and let boil for 2 or 3 minutes until it becomes a thick syrup (238 degrees on a candy thermometer.) Immediately pour the syrup over the spearmint, and let steep until cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, strain out the mint and discard. (The well-sealed syrup will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week.)
3. Put a teaspoon of the optional chopped mint in the bottom of each chilled cup with 2 tablespoons of mint syrup. Fill the cups to the brim with crushed ice. Pour 3/4 cup of bourbon in each. Taste, adding another tablespoon of syrup if desired. Add more crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig, and serve immediately.

So it's Mint Juleps out on the terrace tonight followed by Green Grape Gazpacho, Grilled Lamb Chops, roasted rosemary potatoes and asparagus.

Green Grape Gazpacho

1 lb. white seedless grapes, washed and stems removed
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and rough-chopped
8 oz. whole milk
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Puree all ingredients in a blender; strain through a coarse strainer and garnish with chives, almonds and grape slices.

Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Sotto Il Monte Vineyards