A Look Back At The History Of Mint Julep

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Updated: 5/03/2012 11:32 pm
        Before it was the toast of the Kentucky Derby, the the mint julep was a political icebreaker here in the nation's capital.
        Henry clay took relish in bringing people together and pulling out his silver goblets, and his fresh mint, and his sugar and crushed ice, and constructing southern-style mint juleps for people. 
        Kentucky's famous statesman brought his Southern recipe here to the Round Robin Bar at the Willard  Hotel when he arrived in congress in the early 1800s.
        Bar manager Jim Hewes says before Clay, the north knew juleps crafted with rum or brandy.
The great compromiser, however, did it with a nod to his home state and pushed its popularity.
        He brought with him Kentucky-straight sour mash whiskey, or corn whiskey, as its known, from Bourbon County.
        He brought that to Washington and introduced the Southern-style mint julep. 
Derek Brown of Washington's Columbia Room traces the history of julep drinks even earlier, to the 14th century.
        The origins of the julep actually begin in these fragrant drinks in the Middle East that involved roses. 
        The Mint Julep of the American South was ideal for sipping on summer porches.
        Where those original porches were?
        That may be a little muddled.  
        One of the first mentions was in the beginning of the nineteenth century and it mentions that this was a drink that Virginians had in the morning. 
        But the Mint Julep will always claim an old Kentucky home, the refreshment of derby celebrations in the bluegrass state and beyond.

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