Though the author prefers his bourbon on the rocks, this lightly sweetened concoction is a classic that has been enjoyed throughout the South since long before the first Kentucky Derby. This rendition won our Test Kitchens' top score.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
16 mint sprigs, lightly crushed
8 cups finely crushed ice
1 cup bourbon
Mint sprigs (optional)
How to Make It
Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove sugar syrup from heat; cool completely. Place 2 crushed mint sprigs in the bottom of each of 8 glasses. Add 1 cup crushed ice, 2 tablespoons sugar syrup, and 2 tablespoons bourbon to each glass. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Spirit note: Bourbon is America's original spirit, made primarily from corn with varying amounts of wheat, barley, and rye. Wild Turkey 80 ($18) may sound like your grandfather's whiskey, but this smooth yet rich bourbon with caramel sweetness, vanilla aromas, and a touch of spice is a superb foundation for a mint julep. For a lighter-bodied, fruitier, and gentler style, choose a bourbon with a lot of wheat, like Maker's Mark ($23). --Jeffery Lindenmuth