‘Behold This Cordial Julep’ - Lightly Toasted: Chronicles of the Friday Night Cocktail Club Blog at Allrecipes.com - 234263

Lightly Toasted: Chronicles of the Friday Night Cocktail Club

‘behold this cordial julep’ 
May 2, 2011 1:20 pm 
Updated: May 3, 2011 6:48 pm
How can it be May already? This year has a disturbing velocity behind it.

Also, for the last couple weeks or so the temperature in Seattle has been in the upper 40s, occasionally pinky toe-ing its way up into the low 50s. Always dark and rainy, it’s had the gloomy feel of mid-winter. Today, though, the sun broke out, and the temp absolutely soared into the low 60s. I feel like I’ve snapped out of a deep winter slumber. It’s finally safe to start thinking about an icy mint julep again.

Of course, it’s only a few short days before the mint julep-friendly Kentucky Derby, which I will almost surely not be watching. I’ve missed upwards of forty consecutive races. But just the same, I will do my best to mix a proper julep for the occasion.

Inspired by the sun, I’ve been poking around into the julep’s long history. And I’ve found that references to “julep” go way, way back. The term “julep,” like the word “alcohol” itself, is Arabic in origin, and appears to mean non-alcoholic “rosewater.”

As far back as the 17th century, John Milton was committing poetic thoughts to paper about the (now alcoholic) julep:

See, here be all the pleasures
That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts
When the fresh blood grows lively and returns
Brisk as the April buds in primrose season
And first behold this cordial julep here
The flames and dances in his crystal bounds
With spirits of balm and fragrant syrups mixed

Milton’s would’ve been mintless.  And also rosewater-less.

Of course, these early boozy juleps would not have taken Kentucky bourbon either, as there was none—no Kentucky, no bourbon, no Kentucky bourbon. These first juleps would’ve called for brandy, gin, and later, rum.

Jumping a century-and-a-half ahead, we finally find mint in the julep. There were earlier examples, but Ted Haugh, in his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, provides a mint julep recipe that dates to 1839, named The Georgia Mint Julep*, which, along with mint, originally called for cognac and unsweetened peach brandy in equal measure. No whiskey.

As the name and ingredients suggest, this drink has nothing to do with Kentucky or horse racing. Which is fine since my julep drinking has nothing to do with Kentucky horse racing either, except in so far as it offers a flimsy excuse to play along with a fun cocktail tradition. At any rate, this recipe sounds like something worth trying.

However, as I will have approximately zero chance of tracking down unsweetened peach brandy before this coming weekend, I am giving serious thought to swapping out the cognac and peach brandy for Southern Comfort, a peach-flavored whiskey. (Actually, I’ll probably swap out just the peach brandy and leave in the cognac.)

I’m not suggesting I’m inventing anything new here. As there is nothing new under a Georgian sun, I would not be the least surprised if this Southern Comfort julep is already a well-established cocktail (I’ll google it in a minute).

It's fair to say, I have not considered Southern Comfort, much less drank it, since college. In fact, the last time I drank Southern Comfort, I was sharing the better part of a pint with a real-life, perfectly peachy-keen Southern belle, who, after a couple drinks from a paper cup, jumped up, grabbed a number 2 pencil and sketched the outline for a mural across my dorm-room wall. It was just about the highlight of my year. Although, unfortunately, she never came back to paint it all in. I cannot remember what inspired her to draw on my wall like that or what it was she was depicting there, only that for the rest of the school year faint traces of pencil lines covered the better part of the wall. Soon after, she transferred to another school, though not on account of any Southern Comfort-fueled mural sketching, I don’t think. And I'm sure it's only coincidence that I haven't sipped Southern Comfort since.

Okay, happy spring, people. I’ll report back on my julep making.

*The Georgia Mint Julep calls for about a dozen mint leaves, 1 teaspoon of simple syrup, 1.5 ounces Cognac, 1.5 ounces unsweetened peach brandy (if you're using a sweetened peach brandy, adjust the measurements to 2:1 Cognac to peach brandy). Put the mint leaves in the tumbler, add the sugar water, the brandies, and then lots of shaved or crushed ice.

Kim R, a real photographer, took this photo
Photo Detail
May 2, 2011 1:41 pm
HI LOREM! Funny how I just came inside from transplanting my potted mint plant to a place on the far side of my property! It has just begun to leaf out again after a nasty long winter here in Nova Scotia and I needed to give it the space it deserves. Our "spring" has been long in coming as well and very dark and gloomy. We need sun desperately! My last mint drink was a weak attempt by staff at a Cuban resort to do Mojitos. After a couple of days I realized they just were not putting enough BOOZE in them - which was quickly remedied with a generous tip! Tell Kim the photo is great!
May 2, 2011 5:44 pm
Our spring is a slow starter also but my mint is going strong! Now I know what to do with it!
May 3, 2011 8:48 am
slow spring here as well. Southern Comfort-the name gives me visions of slow sipping, lazy days spent on the back porch swing with a large dog laying at my feet. The breeze blowing and butterflies twirling overhead. BUT having "sampled" the drink a few times in my youth, that was never the scenerio that played out:) It seemed to bring out a yeehaw, bull riding, tractor tipping type of night. Maybe I should have added mint to my drinks to calm and sooth the weekends:)
May 3, 2011 6:48 pm
yummy, i love SoCo...i just bought a bottle with lime in it; i did not like it at all. i will stick to the plain stuff. i don't think my DH will let me use his congnac to make this, so i will have to stick to my mojitos. (maybe i can sneak it though) ;-)
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About Me
My wife and I and our two devilish kittens live on Capitol Hill in Seattle. A few years ago, I got a masters in gastronomy. I'm a food/wine writer. I’m also blogging about cocktails.
My favorite things to cook
We cook fairly simple dishes using fresh local ingredients that we pick up at the Seattle farmers market. My favorite thing is making a nice slow-braised or long-roasted something on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I like cooking with wine (in the dish and in the glass...and in the cook).
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom never liked to cook, but she did well despite herself. Her mother, my omi, was from Munich and made delicious rouladen, sauerbraten and other traditional German and American dishes. Always bins and bins of home-baked cookies at Christmas. Wonderful rye bread. And beer. Opa would say, "Brotzeit ist die beste zeit."
My cooking triumphs
We’ve made the signature timpano dish from The Big Night a couple times. And for Thanksgiving 2007, we made Turducken. My wife and I are always volunteering to cook the big holiday meals with the family. We mix a signature cocktail, and get down to it.
My cooking tragedies
I made Thanksgiving Dinner for myself once when I was snowed-in in Denver. I nearly burned down the neighborhood.
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