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Diageo Reserve World Class Special - Juleps

Since its debut in 2009, the Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final has grown into one of the most influential bartending events of the year, where some of the best emerging and charismatic personalities gather to celebrate a shared obsession, the art of being a bartender. At the end of a week of gruelling competition, fresh mixology talent is uncovered, novel cocktail techniques start to generate buzz and new trends begin to shape the bartending industry for the year ahead.

In the lead up to this year’s Global Finals that will take place from 4 – 9 July, we will be running a series of short World Class specials covering the trend of the moment, Retro Chic and some exclusive Global Final moments.

In this first instalment, we look at the Mint Julep, a classic drink that has endured and evolved and is now very much a fixture in global craft cocktail resurgence.

The word Julep is derived from the Persian word Gulab, or the Arabic Julab, meaning rose-water, and for many years it was used to describe sweetened medicines of all types. Not until 1803 did a cocktail recipe for a Mint Julep appear in print, in John Davis' Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America. He described it as "a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians of a morning."

The Mint Julep has been interpreted in many different ways over the years, but here's a recipe for a classic version of the drink.

Mint Julep

Glass: Julep cup or a collins glass

Garnish: Fresh mint stems and straws.

Method: Cut straws so that they are approximately two inches taller than the serving glass. Add crushed ice to until it is two thirds full. Add the bourbon and syrup, and stir for 10 to 20 seconds. Add more crushed ice and stir again until a thin layer of ice forms on the outside of the glass, then add more crushed ice so that it domes slightly over the rim of the glass.

Finding the Relevance

The obvious relevance of the Mint Julep when it comes to 21st-century cocktails is the use of fresh mint in some of today’s most popular cocktails, but the nuance that sometimes gets overlooked is that this cocktail was one of the first to call for an aromatic garnish.

How are current cocktails and drinking trends influenced by the Mint Julep?

The Mojito and the Southside Cocktail must be considered to be direct descendants of the Mint Julep, simply because they both employ mint, but the Pisco Sour can also be said to have connections to the Julep since it's one of the few drinks that calls for an aromatic cocktail garnish.

Here's a modern cocktail that has the Julep in its soul. It was created by David Nepove when he worked at Enrico's bar in San Francisco.

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Glass: Cocktail glass

Garnish: Sugar rim

Method: Muddle the mint leaves with the lemon juice. Add ice and the remaining cocktail ingredients. Shake and strain.

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