Here at PNM, we’re not above issuing a retraction when one is warranted. We are, of course, always learning and always studying to try and improve our cocktail game, and one of the eventual results of such independent research and experimenting is that, eventually, you’ll realize you screwed something up, and that it’s likely written in indelible Web ink for all the world to see.
Witness our post for the mint julep, published a little over a year ago, and earnestly put forward as a straightforward and authentic recipe for the cocktail. As it happens, I was close, but not quite on.
If you read enough old cocktail books, you’ll notice that certain cocktails are almost exactly the same. A lazy bartender might assume they are interchangeable, and use them as such. We strive for better, though, so we know that when two drinks are almost the same, the things that make them different are crucial. As such, I need to report that my recipe published for the Mint Julep was, actually, basically a recipe for a Whiskey Smash.
The difference? In the case of a julep, we want to leave our mint (preferably still attached to the sprig) intact. We’ll rub it against the inside of the glass, pressing the leaves slightly with our fingers to express the oil in the leaves, but that’s it. If we’re doing anything more violent — breaking up the mint with a muddler, for instance — we’re not making a julep. We’re making a smash. Thomas’s original recipe adds some lemon as well, making the drink more of a Whiskey Southside, but nonetheless, our julep wasn’t really a julep.(The ice is a bit different as well — in the case of a julep, you want shaved ice, not crushed.)
So here, then, is basically the same recipe we published last year for the mint julep, presented this time with the correct name, and with a heavy-hearted mea culpa. As always, we regret the error.
- 2 oz. whiskey (bourbon, Canadian, rye, or blended)
- 1 tsp. simple syrup, or 1 tsp. sugar and a splash of water
- 5-6 mint leaves, or one sprig (plus more for garnish, if desired)
- 1/2 small lemon or 1/4 large lemon, quartered (optional)
- If using sugar instead of simple syrup, mix the sugar with a splash of water in the bottom of a glass and swirl until the sugar is saturated and partially dissolved.
- If adding lemon to the drink, squeeze the lemon pieces into the glass and then drop in.
- Add mint to the glass and muddle the fruit, sugar, and mint thoroughly.
- Fill the glass with crushed ice, pour the liquor on top, and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Garnish with an optional additional mint sprig and serve with a straw, if possible.