May 30 – National Mint Julep Day
Well, I dee-clare! (Yes, that was the best Southern Belle accent I could muster, don’t ridicule me! :P) Today is National Mint Julep Day, a cold, alcoholic drink associated with the genteel South and the Kentucky Derby. Although the Derby passed earlier in the month, you can still celebrate with a cold glass of bourbon, simple syrup, and fresh muddled mint. The Mint Julep‘s preparation is very serious when you get to Kentucky and those parts: some aficionados say you must bruise the mint to release its flavor into the drink, while others say it leaves too strong of a mint flavor and ruins the look of the elaves. And traditionalists will say you can only have a mint julep served in a silver or pewter cup, which kept the drink cool in the hot Southern May afternoons before electricity. It’s doubtful you’ll find many juleps still served in a silver cup, however–unless you’re buying the most expensive glass of mint julep ever made, down at Churchill Downs, made with the best ingredients from all over the world, for $1,000 a glass!
That’s a little excessive, even for the hoity-toity Kentucky Derby, but you can find some really high-quality mint juleps without having to drive all the way down to Kentucky to get them. The undisputed king of mint juleps in New York City is the Tipsy Parson, who bucks the May tradition and serves their special juleps all year long. What makes them so special–and so sought after–is the bar’s julep slushie machine. Yep, there’s no need to bother with ice at the Tipsy Parson, which, as it cools, will water down a julep and make for one unhappy Colonel. Their juleps come pre-iced from their slushie machine, and also allow them to make interesting variations on the mint julep that goes far beyond the four initial ingredients. (Though bourbon–particularly Kentucky bourbon–is always the spirit of choice.) They add a splash of Concord grape juice and lime juice to the slushie mix before serving, making a fruity, tart complement to the super sweet simple syrup and the refreshing mint. (And it cuts down on the heavy bite of the bourbon for us Yanks who aren’t used to all the booze!) It’s not traditional, by any means, but it’s delicious, and it definitely does the job of getting you nice and tipsy at the Tipsy Parson. Head there for a day drink and pair it with one of their pecan-drizzled sticky buns that I highlighted back in February for Sticky Bun Day.
156 9th Ave (between 19th St & 20th St)
“For the signature cocktail at Tipsy Parson, which serves Deep South fare like fried pickles and chicken and dumplings, Ms. Gibson and her partner, Julie Taras Wallach, decided to tame the mint-flecked beast. To that end, as they say in the South, they went whole hog. They have added a big sweet hit of reduced Concord grape juice, along with lime juice, to the traditional julep recipe — bourbon, sugar, mint — and blend their juleps in a 22-gallon frozen-drink machine tucked at end of the marble bar, serving them slushie-style.”–The New York Times
“And then there’s the bourbon craze, with an increasing number of bars devoted solely to showcasing a vast selection of Kentucky’s state tipple. One Manhattan restaurant, Tipsy Parson, debuted the city’s first frozen mint julep machine late last year, and thirsty patrons crowded the bar all winter long.”–Garden And Gun Magazine
“The front bar room feels like the bright, homey kitchen of an old Southern mansion, filled with a church pew for a banquette, lots of colorful knickknacks and plenty of secrets—like the julep slushie machine hidden behind the bar. Why, yes, we did say julep slushie machine.”–Urban Daddy
“While the classic Mint Julep combines Kentucky’s finest – bourbon (always bourbon) – with muddled mint and simple syrup, you can try a whimsical variation at Chelsea’s Tipsy Parson. The concord grape adds a tangy note, and there’s no arguing that it’s one of the prettiest cocktails in creation.”–WNYC
“While the traditional cocktail muddles spearmint leaves with bourbon, sugar and water, Tipsy Parson restaurant co-owner Tasha Garcia Gibson transforms the Southern classic into a summery frozen treat by blending it into a bourbon slushie with Concord grapes. “Purists might not be fans,” she says, “but the end result is really delicious!””–New York Daily News
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Omigod I absolutely adore the concord grape mint julep frozen drinks. I can’t have more than two due to the sugar rush, brain freeze I incur. The bread at the beginning is yummy and being a carboholic I usually get the flaky huge biscuit as well. I love their mac and cheese with bacon so freakin good. Their pork belly specialty app is also pretty bomb. This is one of my favorite comfort food spots.”–Sascha M.
“Loves the decor of the place and the cocktails! The Mint Julep was amazing. The food was good, but I think the atmosphere sold me on it. I am from the south so I enjoy southern food, and there was plenty of that.”–Kathryn A.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!