Strawberry Ginger Julep

It's springtime, and that means the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner. I'm pretty sure I've never actually watched the derby, but I am a supporter of a couple of the race's big traditions: oversized, ladylike hats and mint juleps. In fact, I'm such a supporter of the later, that for many, many years now, I've been known to whip up a batch or two even if the Derby isn't on. 

This year, I'm livening up the old standard with another springtime ingredient: strawberries! And while we're at it, might as well throw in some ginger for good measure. Because ginger makes just about everything better. 

The result? Let's just say, this version may now be my NEW old standard. Recipe below.

strawberry julep woodford reserve

STRAWBERRY GINGER JULEP
{makes 1 drink}

1/2 oz Ginger Simple Syrup (recipe below)
1/2 oz Strawberry Mint Simple Syrup (recipe below)
2 Sprigs of Mint
Angostura Bitters
2 oz Bourbon (I like using a Kentucky straight bourbon like Woodford Reserve, but Jack Daniels Tennesee Honey is quite lovely with this recipe too.)
Crushed Ice

Fill a 1 oz drink jigger half full with ginger simple syrup and the remaining half with strawberry mint simple syrup. Pour half of the syrup mixture into the bottom of a julep cup or rocks glass. Add a few mint leaves to the bottom of the glass and gently muddle. Pour 1 oz bourbon over the syrup and mint leaves, and add a couple dashes of bitters. Fill the glass a little over halfway full with crushed ice, then add another 1 oz of bourbon. Top off the glass with crushed ice, and pour remaining 1/2 oz of syrup mixture over top. Stir gently if you would like, and garnish with mint.

GINGER SIMPLE SYRUP

1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
6" Knob of Ginger, Finely Chopped

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add chopped ginger, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow ginger to steep while the syrup cools to room temperature. (At least 1/2 hour, but you can let it rest longer for more ginger flavor.) Once cooled, pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container and discard ginger. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

STRAWBERRY MINT SIMPLE SYRUP

6-7 Large Strawberries, Quartered
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Bunch of Mint Coarsely Chopped (About 3/4-1 Cup)

Place the strawberry slices in a medium saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a medium simmer and let the strawberries cook for about 20 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the top. After about 20 minutes, the strawberries will have lost most of their color and the water should be deep pink/red in color. Remove from heat. Strain the strawberry liquid through a fine mesh strainer into another clean pot, separating the solid berries from the liquid. DO NOT press down on the solids to extract more juice; doing this will make your strawberry syrup cloudy. Once the strawberry liquid has been strained, discard the solid berries. Add 1 cup of sugar to the strawberry liquid. Bring back to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar into the syrup. Let the syrup simmer for 5 minutes till the sugar is completely dissolved, skimming any additional foam that rises to the top. Remove from heat and add chopped mint to syrup. Allow the mint to steep while the syrup cools to room temperature. (At least 1/2 hour, but you can let it rest longer for more mint flavor.) Once cooled, pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container and discard mint. Refrigerate up to 1 month.