Skim this recipe quickly, and you might be surprised to see a glaring omission: bourbon. While Kentucky has popularized day-drinking mint and bourbon, it is, apparently, not the only way for a drink to qualify as a Julep.
According to Liquor.com, “The Mint Julep gained prominence in the southern United States during the 18th century, and it first appeared in print in 1803 in John Davis’ book Travels of Four and a Half Years in the United States of America. He wrote that the Mint Julep is a ‘dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.’ An ice-cold whiskey drink is certainly one way to start your day. Since its creation, the Mint Julep has remained popular, but the julep itself is actually a category of drinks featuring a spirit served over crushed ice.”
With that bit of freedom, I sought an often overlooked spirit, Lillet, and took advantage of stone fruit season. A simple syrup made with wildflower honey and rooibos tea adds a spiced note to the juicy fruit. The resulting cocktail is light, refreshing, and perhaps, as John Davis would say, quite “spirituous.”
This cocktail also lends itself to batching, so make a big mason jar, so you can sit back and enjoy more of your next summer soiree.
WHITE NECTARINE JULEPS RECIPE
*Adapted from Serious Eats
Yields 2 cocktails
For Rooibos Tea Syrup
1 ½ cups water
1 cup honey
6 rooibos tea bags
3 rooibos tea bags
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup honey
For the Cocktail
1/2 of an overripe peach, cut into slices
1 1/2 ounces rooibos tea syrup
1 ½ ounces fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 ounces cognac, such as Pierre Ferrand
2 ounces Lillet Blanc
Large bunch of mint for garnish
For the Rooibos Tea Syrup:
Bring the water and honey to a boil to combine.
Remove from heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 5 minutes.
Let cool before straining and using.
Store the syrup in the refrigerator.
For the Cocktail
In a mixing glass, muddle peach slices, rooibos syrup, and lemon juice into a rough pulp.
Add cognac and Lillet blanc, stir to mix.
Pour unstrained into serving glass.
Fill the serving glass with crushed ice, garnish with a large bunch of mint.
RECIPE, STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY and STORY BY QUELCY KOGEL
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