A Bit More on the Mint Julep

Jerry Thomas writes in his 1862 Bartender’s Guide:  


“…We have knowledge of several old-fashioned gardens where the mint bed under the southern wall still blooms luxuriantly ; where white fingers of household angels come every day about this time of the year and pluck a few sprays of the aromatic herb to build a julep for poor old shaky grandpa, who sits in the shady corner of the veranda with his feet on the rail and his head busy with the olden days.

In such a household the art is still preserved. With her sleeves rolled up, the rosy granddaughter stirs sugar in a couple of table-spoonfuls of sparkling water, packs crushed ice to the top of the heavy cutglass goblet, pours in the mellow whiskey until an overthrow threatens and then daintily thrusts the mint sprays into the crevices. And the old man, rousing from his dreams, blesses the vision which seems to rise up from the buried days of his youth….

The mint julep still lives, but it is by no means fashionable. Somehow the idea has gotten abroad that the mint ought to be crushed and shaken up with water and whiskey in equal proportions. No man can fall in love with such a mixture. Poor juleps have ruined the reputation of the South’s most famous

drink.”

I like the idea that the mint julep was “out of fashion” in the 1860s.  Perhaps because of the Civil War?

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