Blackberry Mint Juleps are the perfect combination of sweet and tart, making for a lovely American summer sipper.
Farmers’ market season is here and I couldn’t be happier about it. Aisles of juicy tomatoes, glistening berries and friendly farmers await me every Saturday. I’ve been traveling a lot in North Carolina the last three weeks (to the Outer Banks for a press trip, to Chapel Hill to teach journalism camp, to the mountains with my family and then to the other side of Charlotte for my mom’s wedding) so this weekend will be my first farmers’ market trip in almost a month. I can’t wait.
Every July 4, I make something with berries. Usually it’s this Berry Cream Pie, but sometimes it’s Mini Berry Cobblers. This year it’s probably going to be cocktails. I first made this Blackberry Mint Julep for the Kentucky Derby and I’ve been perfecting it ever since.
Even though the mint julep is popular around the horse races in May, I think they’re the perfect Independence Day libation — for a few reasons.
1) They are made with bourbon. If you’ve read my bourbon guide, you know that bourbon is a whiskey that can only be called bourbon if it’s made in the United States (especially Kentucky).
2) It’s a cocktail. Forget beer, which hails from Germany. Cocktails are said to be a very American thing. There are many legends and theories as to why, ranging from the first printed cocktail guide to Prohibition creativity. I enjoyed this article in Saveur on the history of the term ‘cocktail’, which divulges the term’s roots in British history. Let’s not forget America has British roots also, plus cocktails have been popular here since the 1800s.
3) The ingredients are fresh right now. I don’t know about your gardening skills, but the mint growing in the flower box on my porch is looking way better right now than it was back in May. Plus, someone brought me blackberries from the farmers market last week and they were the most succulent berries I’ve tasted in years. A blackberry version of the mint julep is a lovely way to dress up this classic drink for summer.
July 4 is one of my favorite holidays (tied with Thanksgiving) so you can bet I’ll be sipping on fresh, ruby-hued Blackberry Mint Juleps this weekend. After a trip to the farmers’ market, of course. // susannah
P.S. You’ll need a wooden stick called a muddler (affiliate link) to smoosh the blackberries, mint and sugar into this cocktail. If you don’t have one, don’t sweat. You can use the handle of a wooden spoon.
A fresh and succulent summer sipper
- 4–6 mint leaves, removed from stems
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 blackberries, plus more for garnish
- 2 cups crushed ice
- 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
- mint sprig, for garnish
- Clap the mint leaves between your hands to release the mint’s natural oils. Add the mint leaves to the bottom of an old-fashioned glass or julep cup.
- Add the sugar. Using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, crush the sugar into the mint leaves.
- Add the berries. With the muddler, mash the berries into the sugar and mint and stir gently to combine.
- Fill the cup to the top with crushed ice. Top with bourbon. Garnish with a mint sprig and 1-2 blackberries.