THE MINT JULEP
Mint Julep, a distinctive Southern drink, popular in the
ante bellum South right up through modern times, is a mixture of water,
sugar, mint leaves and, above all, bourbon whiskey. While it can be
purchased today in modern drinking establishments in the South, those
served there bear little resemblance to those served in the home. The
serving of this elixir to family and guests on a hot summer afternoon
was, and is, accomplished with the greatest fanfare and flourish to
show respect for those receiving it. It is as much of a ceremony
is a drink.
The following is a copy of a letter from Lieutenant General
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., USA [(VMI-1906, West Point-1908) killed on
Okinawa June 18, 1945] to Major General William D. Connor,
[Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point]
dated March 30, 1937. Buckner Jr. was the son of General Simon Bolivar
Buckner of the Confederate army who surrendered Fort Donelson to
General Grant, thus giving Grant his nickname of "Unconditional
Surrender" Grant. This letter clearly demonstrates the esteem in which
a "Mint Julep" is held.
|EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP
|My Dear General Connor:
requesting my formula for mixing mint juleps leaves
me in the same position in which Captain Barber found himself when
asked how he was able to carve the image of an elephant from a block of
wood. He said that it was a simple process consisting merely of
whittling off the part that didn't look like an elephant.
preparation of the quintessence of gentlemanly beverages
can be described only in like terms. A mint julep is not a product of a
formula. It is a ceremony and must be performed by a gentleman
possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the
ingredients and a proper appreciation of the occasion. It is a rite
that must not be entrusted to a novice, a statistician nor a Yankee. It
is a heritage of the Old South, and emblem of hospitality, and a
vehicle in which noble minds can travel together upon the flower-strewn
paths of a happy and congenial thought.
So far as
the mere mechanics of the operation are concerned,
the procedure, stripped of its ceremonial embellishments, can be
described as follows:
Go to a
spring where cool, crystal-clear water bubbles from
under a bank of dew-washed ferns. In a consecrated vessel, dip up a
little water at the source. Follow the stream thru its banks of green
moss and wild flowers until it broadens and trickles thru beds of mint
growing in aromatic profusion and waving softly in the summer breeze.
Gather the sweetest and tenderest shoots and gently carry them home. Go
to the sideboard and select a decanter of Kentucky Bourbon distilled by
a master hand, mellowed with age, yet still vigorous and inspiring. An
ancestral sugar bowl, a row of silver goblets, some spoons and some ice
and you are ready to start.
canvas bag pound twice as much ice as you think you will
need. Make it fine as snow, keep it dry and do not allow it to
degenerate into slush. Into each goblet, put a slightly heaping
teaspoonful of granulated sugar, barely cover this with spring water
and slightly bruise one mint leaf into this, leaving the spoon in the
goblet. Then pour elixir from the decanter until the goblets are about
one-fourth full. Fill the goblets with snowy ice, sprinkling in a small
amount of sugar as you fill. Wipe the outside of the goblets dry, and
embellish copiously with mint.
the delicate and important operation of frosting. By
proper manipulation of the spoon, the ingredients are circulated and
blended until nature, wishing to take a further hand and add another of
its beautiful phenomena, encrusts the whole in a glistening coat of
harmoniously blended by the deft touches of a skilled
hand, you have a beverage eminently appropriate for honorable men and
When all is
ready, assemble your guests on the porch or in the
garden where the aroma of the juleps will rise heavenward and make the
birds sing. Propose a worthy toast, raise the goblets to your lips,
bury your nose in the mint, inhale a deep breath of its fragrance and
sip the nectar of the gods.
overcome with thirst, I can write no further.
S.B. Buckner, Jr.
VMI Class of
The author of this HOW DO YOU MAKE A . . . MINT JULEP
the famous and singularly named
He is a respected Civil War expert and afficianado Click here
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