Summer serves: ginger julep


Photograph: Joakim Blockstrom

Photograph: Joakim Blockstrom

While a classic G&T never fails, sometimes there is call for something with a little more pizzazz. In the first of our series of summer serves, Amanda Baxter gives the julep a ginger twist.

A very basic combination of spirit, water, sugar and mint, the term “julep” – also known as a mint sling or smash – has written mentions as early as 900AD, though not as a cocktail, but referring to medicine. Julep originates from the Arabic “Julap” or “Julepe” meaning rosewater, often used to sweeten drinks.

Its rise to fame as a cocktail coincides with the arrival of commercially available ice, to which bruised mint, sugar and alcohol was added, with a straw to drink from. This was the ultimate cooler on a hot day and is often associated with the Kentucky Derby, although many areas of the American south claim to have concocted it first. A julep would originally have been made with Cognac, however, after phylloxera wiped out many vineyards in the 1850s, there was a move to use whisky instead, and – being an American creation – this meant Bourbon or rye. The drink dilutes and evolves over time as the drinker sips; perfect for long summer evenings.

The delightful simplicity of our version is that it doesn’t need any additional sugar, The King’s Ginger is already sweet enough!

Ginger julep

In the bottom of a “julep” cup very gently muddle the lower leaves from two tender mint sprigs with 15ml of The King’s Ginger liqueur. Add plenty of crushed ice, to the top of the cup, and add a further 35ml of The King’s Ginger liqueur. Insert a long handled spoon down the side of cup and swirl until the cup frosts on the outside. This also adds dilution. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with the top leaves from the mint sprig for aroma. For a longer drink, reduce The King’s Ginger liqueur to 15ml and then 20ml – see above – and then top with sparkling apple juice.