Menthe's legacy

David Gerrans of The Whip Mayfair shares his recipe for the classic cocktail from America's Deep South: the Mint Julep, while delving into the legendary origins of one of its key ingredients

Menthe was a water nymph who entranced and seduced Hades, ruler of the Underworld and husband of the beautiful goddess Persephone. The beauty and charms of Persephone could not keep Hades from the arms of Menthe, and when Persephone caught the pair up to their dirty deeds, in her fury she turned Menthe into a low-growing plant so that the feet of humans would forever trample her. Hades, feeling sorry for Menthe, gave her a sweet aromatic smell to omit from her when crushed, so humans would grow to love her as he did. Hence the story of how mint, one of the four key ingredients in a Mint Julep, came to this world.

Rather than trample on your mint, lightly press it in the Julep tin cup to release its aromatics before adding sugar ice and whisky to this slow sipping cocktail.

Mint Julep

50ml American bourbon whisky
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp water
6-8 mint leaves

Add the mint to your julep tin or glass and lightly press it with a spoon to release its aromatics. Add the sugar and water next – sugar has a hard time dissolving in alcohol so give it a quick stir – then add 2 shots of whisky. Wrap up some ice in a tea towel and with a mallet or a frying pan go to town on it. Scoop your newly crushed ice on top and add a mint sprig garnish. Julep strainer optional. 

The Whip is a new cocktail bar perched above Mayfair's oldest pub in London.