Jumpin' Juleps

You don't need a derby to enjoy this Southern cocktail

The mere thought of a mint julep conjures up images of giant hats and Kentucky Derby ponies. But don't relegate the cool, minty cocktail to one day a year: The julep is perfect anytime, especially hot summer days. And some local bartenders are putting a fresh L.A. spin on the traditionally Southern drink.

With only four base ingredients–bourbon, sugar, mint and ice–it's easy to enhance a cocktail like the julep. Fresh berries and lemon juice add a fruity, seasonal twist to Westside Tavern's blackberry version. At Copa D'Oro, Vincenzo Marianella makes a refreshing cucumber julep with Martin Miller's Gin replacing the bourbon, plus St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh mint, cucumber and lemon bitters.

For a real local twist, the Rick's Julep (pictured) at West Hollywood's new Boa Steakhouse is made with LA Mill's Moroccan mint tea. "I didn't want to use more sugar, flavored syrups or heavy liqueurs," says bar manager Josh Renfree. "And the green tea has antioxidants." It tastes healthier, like a slightly sweet tea with a touch of bourbon, instead of the other way around.

Click here for the Rick's Julep recipe. Serving it in a traditional silver cup is optional.