It’s getting close to Kentucky Derby time, and that means Mint Juleps! In case you don’t know, Mint Juleps are a major Kentucky Derby tradition. Each year the Kentucky Derby sells almost 120,000 mint juleps! A properly made Julep is a wonderful thing, it cools, refreshes and packs a punch, all at the same time.
I’m not one to let simple tradition stand in my way, and I wanted to take this recipe up a notch or two. Hmm, what to do, what to do- Infuse the bourbon with bacon! I made a version of these for a Smithfield Chef’s Table dinner at one of my restaurants, STEAK by Melissa, and it was a big hit. Here’s a version for you to try!
About the simple syrup:
Traditionally, a Mint Julep is very simple- good bourbon, simple syrup, crushed ice and mint. You have two options for the simple syrup. I prefer to infuse mint into the simple syrup. The other option is you can muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass. I generally infuse it, so I’ll give you that recipe. If you prefer some “grass in the glass” just omit mint from the simple syrup recipe and bust out the muddler!
- 1 750ml Bourbon
- 4 slices bacon rendered fat reserved
Minted Simple Syrup
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 2-3 bunches fresh mint
- Cook 4 slices bacon. I always use Smithfield Bacon, because to me it's the "baconiest."
- You're not going to use the bacon, just the fat. So enjoy this well deserved treat!
- Pour bourbon into a quart mason jar (or any sealable container) and pour in reserved bacon fat. Let sit out for a minimum of 4 hours, shaking occasionally.
- Freeze it! Place in freezer for at least 4 hours, but overnight works better.
- Strain bourbon through a coffee filter, then pour back in the bottle.
- Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add 2 ounces infused bourbon, fill with simple syrup and garnish with mint leaf!
Minted Simple syrup
- Place 2 cups water on stove and heat over medium heat. Add 2 cups sugar and stir.
- Simmer and stir until sugar is fully dissolved and syrup is clear, about 5-6 minutes.
- Remove mint leaves, rinse and roughly chop. Remove syrup from heat, and add mint leaves. Allow to steep for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Allow to cool, strain out mint leaves and pour into container. Will keep in fridge for 7 days. In addition to bourbon, this will really freshen up a nice glass of iced tea!