For A Tastier Mint Julep, Rub Your Glass With The Aromatic Leaves

The mint julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby for a good reason. This tasty drink combines a hint of sweetness from simple syrup with the smoky burn of bourbon finished off with an herbal whiff of mint. But sometimes, between the bourbon and the simple syrup, you start to lose the pungency of the mint. To heighten the herbal element of the mint julep try rubbing the glass with aromatic leaves.

You may already be familiar with rimming your glasses with salt or sugar for drinks like margaritas, but the technique can also be applied to a multitude of other ingredients. Rimming the glass provides a complementary flavor that won't overpower your beverage. It's simply meant to highlight the other ingredients present in your drink without diminishing any of them.

To get the most out of your herbs, you'll have to use another bartender technique known as spanking. Don't let the risqué name fool you, it just refers to slapping your mint — or other herbal leaves — to release the oils and aromas. After spanking, rub the leaf around the rim of your glass, coating it in the fragrant oil. This brings the minty flavor forward and gives the illusion that your drink contains more mint than it actually does. If you're running low on mint or just want a stronger herbal presence, this is a great technique to utilize.

Experiment with other herbs

Don't limit yourself to mint alone; you can experiment with other fragrant herbs, even in the same drink. Other herbs can still highlight the mint in a mint julep while also adding more layers of flavor. You'll want to go with herbs that complement the bourbon, so herbs with a lightly sweet flavor are a great starting point. Tarragon is a highly aromatic herb that has a subtle licorice flavor to it. Although tarragon typically accompanies fish and chicken dishes, it can bring a subtle sweet-and-earthy flavor to the rim of your glass.

You can also opt for basil, another highly aromatic herb. Basil is slightly less sweet than mint but still offers a fresh aroma to help cut through the intensity of the bourbon. If you do elect to experiment with other herbs, try using the stems in your simple syrup to bring a subtle herbal element to the whole drink.