Tag Archives: origins of the mint julep

The Cocktail Whisperer’s Twisted Snap Julep

The Cocktail Whisperer’s Twisted Snap Julep

by Warren Bobrow, The Cocktail Whisperer

One of the things that I remember best of my childhood was the scent of brown butter and ginger and the trays of spicy, crisp and savory ginger snap cookies baked at home.  Our governess was from Germany and she loved to bake these savory treats whenever the opportunity arose.   It’s funny to look back and remember the first time I tasted a ginger snap cookie.  In my mind’s eye I can picture the flat shape, the golden brown color of the dough and the spicy aromatics of the toasted ginger filling my grandparents home.  This aroma still haunts my imagination whenever I smell ginger.  It is a good feeling and one that I like to call back on when given the opportunity.

Snap is the amalgamation of my sweet childhood dreams of the perfect ginger snap cookie.

There is a USDA certified organic liquor on the market named Snap.  Snap is the amalgamation of my sweet childhood dreams of the perfect ginger snap cookie.  Of course my childhood cookie thoughts did not involve shots of firewater on the side.

Snap is a marvelous concoction encompassing the flavor of freshly baked ginger cookies with a marvelous twist.  The memorable twist of Snap is the brooding 80 proof heat immediately located in the center of your imagination.  You cannot escape from it.  There is molasses in there along with baking spices and the unmistakable aroma of caramelized ginger with a healthy dose of vanilla sugar.

Today I had a hankering for a Mint Julep.  You know, the classic cocktail that is comprised of nothing more than freshly picked mint, raw sugar, crushed ice and Bourbon or Rye Whiskey.  In keeping with my twisted sensibilities I took the path never taken prior.

The Rye Whiskey that I chose for this drink is Tuthilltown Rye.  I love the jagged edges of this Rye.  It stands up well to ice and plays well in the sandbox with other liquors.  Today I have several bottles to experiment with.  The one that made the cut is the Snap.  Mixed in a sterling silver (copper core) cup with freshly picked mint and instead of using raw sugar, I used JM Rhum, Cane Syrup from Martinique.  Cane Syrup is magnificent stuff.  It is freshly cut cane, crushed into juice, then boiled down to become a syrup.  If fermented, this syrup becomes Rum.  Unfermented in a cocktail it adds a dimension of taste that is quite sensuous.
So, to slake your thirst in my cocktail whisperer manner you must first do a little legwork.  You need a couple copper core, sterling silver Julep Cups.


The origins of the mint julep are clouded and may never be definitively known. The first appearance of a mint julep in print came in a book by John Davis published in London in 1803, where it was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”[2] However, Davis did not specify that bourbon was the spirit used.

The Twisted Snap Julep

The traditional Virginia recipe as served at the “Old White” is described-“…the famous old barroom, which was approached by a spiral staircase. Here in this dark, cool room, scented with great masses of fragrant mint that lay upon mountains of crushed ice, in the olden days were created the White Sulphur mint julep and the Virginia toddy, for which this place was famous the world over. The mint juleps were not the composite compounds of the present day. They were made of the purest French brandy, limestone water, old-fashioned cut loaf sugar, crushed ice, and young mint the foliage of which touched your ears…Here, in this old room, was uttered that famous remark of the Governor of North Carolina to the Governor of South Carolina. ‘It is a long time between drinks.'”[3] The mint julep originated in the southern United States, probably during the eighteenth century. U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the drink to Washington, D.C., at the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel during his residence in the city.[4] The term ‘julep’ is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine. The word itself is derived from the Persian word ???? (Golâb), meaning rose water. Americans enjoyed not only bourbon based juleps during the nineteenth century, but also gin based juleps made with genever, an aged gin. Recently, however, bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed gin-based juleps.[5] Traditionally, the silver cup should have a copper core to fully freeze the contents. [6]


1. ^ “Mint Julep Ritual”. Bencaudill.com. 1937-03-30. Retrieved 2010-07-30. Davis, John (1803).

2. ^ Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America. p. 379. Retrieved 2009-05-04.

3. ^ MacCorkle, William A., The White Sulphur Springs, the Traditions, History, and Social Life of the Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs, Neale Publishing Co., NY, 1916, pg. 66

4. ^ See Nickell, p. 31, for Clay’s recipe, taken from his diary.

5. ^ Summer Drinks Issue – A Guide to Bartending When the Frost is on the Glass – NY Times

6. ^ Warren Bobrow. The Hand-Crafted Mint Julep, 5/25/2010

7. ^ “Derby Experience-Mint Julep”. Churchill Downs Inc.. Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved 28 December 2008.


But I digress.  This drink (below) is not your typical Mint Julep.  Not at all.  I fact it might cause the “pure of heart” to get a bit overwrought by my changes.  Sit still.

Relax and fix yourself my absurdly delicious version of the Classic Mint Julep.

The Cocktail Whisperer’s Twisted Snap Julep


to make 2 very strong cocktails- Danger level #4 out of 5

Tuthilltown Rye
Snap USDA Certified Organic
Freshly picked Spearmint
JM Rhum (brand) Cane Syrup from Martinique or like brand, must be cane syrup
Copper Core, Sterling Silver Julep Cups (2)
Crushed Ice


Crush Ice in an old- fashioned hand cranked ice crusher
Add a small amount of mint to the cup
Alternate mint, Rye, Snap, Ice, Cane Syrup, Mint while muddling the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon
Watch the frost rise up the cup
When your cup is sufficiently filled with ice and liquor, top with a splash more of the Rye and Snap
Garnish with a sprig of mint and drizzle some more Cane Syrup over the top[/box]

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