The Kentucky Derby and the Derby Day Parties are over, but there is still quite a bit of mint left in the garden. What can you do with it? Well, Mint Juleps are really great cocktails during the summer and probably most of the year. They also pair well with a wide variety of food. Steve & Paul’s Cocktail Buzz is a great source of ideas and recipes for cocktails, as well as some equally great ideas for food pairings.
Their Mint Julep recipe is demonstrated on “Buzzed”, their “video guide to making the perfect cocktail (and what to pair it with)”. In the video they pair their mint julep with lamb meatballs and Tzatziki. I have served this combination at a number of cocktail parties, tapas parties, etc and it is always a success.
Mint juleps not only pair well with a wide range of appetizers, but they also work with deserts as well. One of my favorites is a Fraisier (a French strawberry cake with whipped cream) and I think it works especially well with a Ginger Julep. I also like serve a Cognac Julep on its own, as well as with a wide range of food. Cognac was actually used for juleps in the early 19th century. French brandy, especially Cognac, was widely available and used in a number of different drinks. The early juleps were mixtures of Cognac, wine (such as Bordeaux, Madeira, various ports or sherries), sugar, ice and topped with complex arrangements of ingredients such as mint, berries, flowers, lemons and sugar. It was also popular to use Dutch gin rather than brandy. These rather complex and artistic drinks evolved into a julep with just Cognac, mint, sugar, water and ice. By the end of the century, bourbon replaced Cognac and became the Mint Julep that we enjoy today.
Experiment with different types of mint juleps, pair them with your favorite food and enjoy.