Two glasses of mint julep.
Bourbon Isn't Actually The Original Spirit Utilized In Mint Juleps
If you're familiar with the mint julep, you know that bourbon plays a vital role in its recipe, but you might be surprised to learn that it hasn't always been this way.
Originally, the mint julep wasn't a cocktail at all, but an elixir for stomach and throat issues. It was made by combining a strong spirit with an equal part of water.
It was sweetened with a few sugar cubes and infused with fresh mint leaves. Any spirit with a kick could be used such as high-proof rum, rye whiskey, or moonshine.
It wasn't until the 1700s that whiskey — particularly bourbon — became a symbol of the southern U.S. and became the preferred spirit in a mint julep.
During the Civil War era of the 1800s, bourbon's role in a mint julep became firmly established. The war led to declined availability of brandy, and bourbon took its place.
After Prohibition was repealed, marketing campaigns reintroduced bourbon's comeback, which is why you'd be hard-pressed today to find a mint julep with anything but bourbon.