ginger strawberry mint julep
A long time ago, at the very beginning of my journey of learning how to cook like a proper adult, I discovered mint juleps. I’m sure I’m aging myself by telling you this, but hipster cocktail bars hadn’t popped up in every other neighborhood yet, and nobody had any idea what a mixologist was. We were awash in a world of jack & cokes, PBRs, and maybe a Sam Adams here and there if we were feeling fancy.
But one year, after a particularly tedious Minnesota winter, me, and an equally weather weary friend decided to officially kick off spring with the Kentucky Derby and Mint Juleps- weather report be damned!
Instead of summer frocks and wide brimmed hats, we bundled up in stocking caps, scarves and down vests in the back yard. We laughed and shivered and laughed some more as our hands turned to ice holding our glass jelly jars standing in for impromptu julep cups.
Every year, this became our tradition, and the way we emotionally bid adieu to father winter.
Living in California means there’s no longer celebratory toasts to the end of cold, short days. Of course, my glasses have gotten fancier over the years, and so has my recipe. This ginger strawberry mint julep is my favorite, bringing in the sweetness of spring with fresh fruit and a spicy kick.
I love rituals that spring up around food, so let me know in the comments below a favorite tradition you’ve created around food.
And if you try the recipe for the Kentucky Derby this weekend, let me know how it turns out!
ginger strawberry mint julep
1/2 oz Ginger Simple Syrup (recipe below)
1/2 oz Strawberry Mint Simple Syrup (recipe below)
2 Sprigs of Mint
2 oz Bourbon
Fill a 1 oz drink jigger half full with ginger simple syrup and the remaining half with strawberry mint simple syrup. Pour half of the syrup mixture into the bottom of a julep cup or rocks glass. Add a few mint leaves to the bottom of the glass and gently muddle. Pour 1 oz bourbon over the syrup and mint leaves, and add a couple dashes of bitters. Fill the glass a little over halfway full with crushed ice, then add another 1 oz of bourbon. Top off the glass with crushed ice, and pour remaining 1/2 oz of syrup mixture over top. Stir gently if you would like, and garnish with mint.
Strawberry Mint Syrup
6-7 Large Strawberries, Quartered
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Bunch of Mint Coarsely Chopped (About 3/4-1 Cup)
Place the strawberry slices in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a medium simmer and let the strawberries cook for about 20 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the top. After about 20 minutes, the strawberries will have lost most of their color and the water should be deep pink/red in color. Remove from heat. Strain the strawberry liquid through a fine mesh strainer into another clean pot, separating the solid berries from the liquid. DO NOT press down on the solids to extract more juice; doing this will make your strawberry syrup cloudy. Once the strawberry liquid has been strained, discard the solid berries. Add 1 cup of sugar to the strawberry liquid. Bring back to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar into the syrup. Let the syrup simmer for 5 minutes till the sugar is completely dissolved, skimming any additional foam that rises to the top. Remove from heat and add chopped mint to syrup. Allow the mint to steep while the syrup cools to room temperature. (At least 1/2 hour, but you can let it rest longer for more mint flavor.) Once cooled, pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container and discard mint. Refrigerate up to 1 week.
Ginger Simple Syrup
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
6" Knob of Ginger, Finely Chopped
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add chopped ginger, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow ginger to steep while the syrup cools to room temperature. (At least 1/2 hour, but you can let it rest longer for more ginger flavor.) Once cooled, pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container and discard ginger. Refrigerate up to 1 week.