This twist on the mint julep took third place in the official cocktail contest of the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. However, Jason Wilson believes it should have won.
Be sure to use ripe summer peaches and high-quality bourbon. Although straining the mixture makes for a more polished drink, you can serve it unstrained; in that case, muddle in a highball glass and pack with crushed ice.
Adapted from Wayne Curtis, drinks correspondent for the Atlantic and author of “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the World in Ten Cocktails.”
Ginger Peach Julep
2 ripe peach slices
2 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce ginger syrup (see note)
8 to 10 mint leaves, plus a mint sprig for garnish
Combine the peach slices, bourbon, ginger syrup and mint leaves in a mixing glass. Muddle gently, crushing the peaches and bruising (but not tearing) the mint leaves. Let the mixture sit for 2 or 3 minutes.
Pack a highball glass (or julep cup) with crushed ice and insert a straw. Slowly pour the contents of the mixing glass through a strainer into the ice-packed glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Note: To make ginger syrup, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 12 coin-size slices of ginger root in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a slow, rolling boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a glass container and let cool to room temperature. It's ready to use, but for best flavor, cover tightly and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours; store indefinitely. Serves 1.