Bourbon is the obvious choice of booze for a julep, especially on Kentucky Derby day, which takes place where bourbon was born. But in his 1862 book How to Mix Drinks Jerry Thomas offers a recipe that uses cognac instead.
With leftover cognac from the Hot Brandy Toddy, I made a couple batches of Thomas’ Mint Julep for my boyfriend – who wooed me with homemade bourbon mint juleps the summer we met – and one of his friends. I was certain the brandy would throw them off, but they drank approvingly. This could indicate an imminent comeback for cognac, or more likely, a lack of discrimination when it comes to brown liquor.
Tips for Lazy Boozers
• Instead of sugar and water, I used simple syrup I’d already made (by dissolving equal parts of sugar and water in a heated saucepan). Either works fine.
• Okay, CONFESSION TIME: I skipped the bouquet arrangement and the fruit topping. But looking back, those “small pieces of sliced orange on top in a tasty manner” seems like a missed opportunity with the cognac. So consider going the extra mile with those puppies if you're feeling patient.