Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Honeysuckle Infused Mint Juleps

Honeysuckle Infused Mint Juleps
Okay, let's get down to the nitty-gritty people... there are are quite a few things that embrace the essence of the South. Fried chicken, gravy, peaches, biscuits, cobbler, grits, liquor... well, lots of liquor. And the quintessential drink is the mint julep. It's our go-to for parties, derby days, or even while we are just grilling out. So when I made such a big batch of honeysuckle syrup (the recipe I posted yesterday), my mind kept racing with all the possibilities it could be used in. Of course, making a honeysuckle mint julep was first on my list. I mean rose flavored lemonade is fabulous, as well as hibiscus margaritas, why wouldn't a honeysuckle mint julep be just as good? It was sweet with subtle floral notes that balanced perfectly against the fragrant muddled mint + strong-ass bourbon. All you have to do is serve it in a mint julep cup (if you have one) with a lot of crushed ice and sprig of mint, or hey, throw a blossom of honeysuckle just for presentation. Your guests will love it and it would be absolutely perfect for your derby parties... or just a hot, summer afternoon!! Enjoy :)

For the Honeysuckle Simple Syrup:
8C Honeysuckle Flowers (whole, stems + leaves removed)
3C Water
2C Sugar
1C Honey
Pinch of Salt

For the Mint Juleps:
6-8 Fresh Mint Leaves (plus mint springs for garnish)
1-2oz Prepared Honeysuckle Simple Syrup, Chilled
3oz High Quality Bourbon
Crushed Ice
Fresh Sprigs of Mint or Honeysuckle Flowers, For Garnishing

1. For the Honey Simple Syrup: Pick through your eight cups of honeysuckle flowers, making sure to remove any stems or leaves that remain…we just want the flower and its’ sweet honey nectar. Place the honey into a large bowl and make the simple syrup. Place the honey, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil, and simmer until the honey is completely dissolved. Pour in the syrup into the bowl of prepare honeysuckles and let it cool completely on the counter overnight (covered with plastic wrap) until the flower flavor as steeped into the simple syrup liquid. Strain the honeysuckle flowers out of the infused simple syrup through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a big bottle. Chill the honeysuckle syrup until cold.
2. For the Mint Juleps: Lightly muddle the mint leaves with the prepared honeysuckle simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add in the bourbon and shake to combine. Fill a julep cup or glass with crushed ice. Pour the liquid over the ice. Stir until a frost forms on the outside of the cup. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with fresh mint springs (or honeysuckles), and then serve with a straw.

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