For anyone who has ever enjoyed unwinding with a refreshing cocktail or two, Richard Barksdale Harwell's elegant volume The Mint Julep provides a delightful foray into the ceremonial, traditional, and regional history of the Old South's favorite drink. Taking the reader through several often-debated recipes for creating the perfect julep, Harwell also unveils the elusive history behind the drink, from its highly contested origin in Virginia, through Oxford University's establishment of Mint Julep Day in 1845, and beyond. Summoning voices and anecdotes from the past, Harwell's handsome little book offers an efficient and enthusiastic voyage into the realm of mixing, stirring, and enjoying the perfect mint julep.
The ceremonial undertaking of making a mint julep -- which is not simply the product of a recipe -- has always been the subject of much debate, from the use of "cool, crystal-clear water bubbles" and "snow ice" to the embellishments and spells that go hand-in-hand with making the drink. Harwell summons various voices from as early as 1803 to help unlock the mystery behind creating the perfect julep, while also uncovering the cultural impact the julep had on the American South and abroad. Always remaining an impartial guide, Harwell offers his own enthusiasm for the mint julep in both his text and the book's lively footnotes. For anyone interested in the history of the South or in learning how to make an outstanding drink, The Mint Julep offers a refreshing and light-hearted contribution. [via]