Ok, so remember when I said that an Aperol Spritz is one of my favorite cocktails, pretty much directly behind an Old Fashioned? Well, I forgot about Mint Juleps. Which I also really love. So, my “favorite cocktail” is more like 5 favorite cocktails.
I’m also thinking of doing more dessert + cocktail pairings on the blog, what do you guys think? For example, eat dark chocolate with red wine or eat a really simple white cake with champagne. Or, eat a pizza with an Aperol Spritz. Could be fun.
In this case, I decided to combine a dessert and a drink, cupcakes and Mint Juleps – cupcakes are the best type of cake, I’m obsessed with the Mint Julep Boutique (maybe half of my clothes are from there at the moment), and I really miss going to the Golden Moon Distillery , who makes the BEST Mint Julep I’ve ever had. So, this recipe is a tribute to all of those things I suppose!
Let’s get to it. Mint Juleps are a light and refreshing cocktail of crushed ice, bourbon, simple syrup, and mint, and are well known for their appearance at the Kentucky Derby. Which I honestly couldn’t explain before writing this blog post, so I did a little research for you.
First, what’s a “julep” anyway? Derived from the Spanish word “julepe,” meaning ‘sweet drink,’ and back in the 18th century it was of course considered medicinal. The Mint Julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby during the 1930s, and Kentuckians were proud to have claim to this bourbon drink after prohibition was repealed. So, it’s sort of like the equivalent of drinking an ice-cold Coors at a Colorado ski area: it’s brewed locally and it goes hand in hand with this favorite sport. I suppose in Kentucky, Mint Juleps were the Coors and horse racing was the skiing.
I’ll also let you know what makes a bourbon a bourbon (rather than whiskey), since I’m always the first person to forget even though I quite like both. So, for a whiskey to be called a bourbon, it by law has to be produced from at least 51% corn. The remaining 49% can be a combination of wheat and rye, which gives you normal, wheated bourbon vs. rye – I personally prefer rye at the moment, it has a spicier taste rather than a more hay flavor. (And I used rye bourbon in this recipe! But any kind works.) Anyway, bourbon mash must also be distilled at 160 proof or less and put into a barrel at 125 proof or less. So those are the laws around the ingredients themselves, but there are also rules around the aging process. By law, bourbon must be aged in a new charred white oak barrel (not used), so let’s hope there’s no white oak barrel shortage. Finally, a whiskey must be distilled in the United States to be a bourbon – Kentucky is the largest producer in the country and certainly is well known for their bourbon, but it isn’t restricted to Kentucky.
So, there’s some Mint Julep history for you! And here’s a recipe I like for the drink itself if you want to try it out. The key is to have a lot of crushed or shaved ice (so it’s almost like a snow cone) and to gently bruise mint leaves rather than muddle them.
There’s no special guidance needed for these cupcakes, so I’ll let you get to baking. Enjoy this summery recipe and make sure to tag @leveledblue with your bakes!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
For the whipped cream
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