This Tiki classic delivers complex, festive flavor
Need mint in your julep? We’ve got that.
But this drink offers a twist on the julep theme, using rum instead of bourbon. (Two rums, in fact.) Plus two fruit juices and other assorted ingredients.
So making this cocktail is a bit of a production. But totally worth it.
Recipe: The Rum Julep Cocktail
You probably know the Mint Julep Cocktail. It’s made by muddling mint with sugar (or simple syrup) in a glass, then adding crushed ice and topping up with bourbon.
Less well known is the Rum Julep, a drink devised by Tiki maestro Donn Beach (who started the whole Tiki craze with his Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain).
About the only thing the Rum Julep shares with its more famous sibling is mint (used as a garnish here). And of course the “julep” name (more about that in the Notes).
We got our recipe from Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari. The recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 1½ ounces demerara rum (see Notes)
- ½ ounce amber Jamaican rum (see Notes)
- ¼ teaspoon allspice dram (aka pimento dram)
- ¼ teaspoon falernum
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ ounce orange juice (good-quality bottled is OK in this drink)
- ½ ounce honey simple syrup (easy to make; see Notes)
- ¼ teaspoon grenadine (preferably homemade; see Notes)
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- mint sprig for garnish (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well chilled (at least 20 seconds).
- Strain into a tall (highball) glass filled with chipped or crushed ice. Add more ice to fill the glass if necessary. Add garnish, if using, and serve.
- Donn Beach made many of his drinks in a blender, including this one. His usual method: Add all the ingredients (except garnish) to a blender jar, along with 4 ounces of crushed ice. Blend on high speed for no more than 5 seconds, then pour the contents of the blender jar into a tall glass (or in this case, a metal swizzle cup). Add more crushed ice, if necessary, to fill the glass.
- We prefer to shake the drink with ice – it’s just easier. We think this cocktail looks (and tastes) best when served over crushed or chipped ice, but you can use standard ice cubes if you prefer.
- Beach originally served this cocktail in a metal swizzle cup. You can purchase a replica cup at the Cocktail Kingdom website. We skip that, though, and just use a glass (we have way too much barware as it is).
- Many of Beach’s Tiki drinks were made with rum, often more than one variety (as is the case with this one).
- This drink requires demerara rum, which comes from Guyana. El Dorado is the brand you’re most likely to see in liquor stores. We suggest their 8-year-old version for cocktail making. You can buy older (more expensive) bottlings, but that’s overkill for cocktails.
- As for the amber Jamaican rum: We like Appleton Estate Signature Blend or their 8-year-old reserve.
- We’ve used allspice dram (aka pimento dram) in several drinks recently – and we’ll be using it in more! You can make your own allspice dram (instructions are on the interwebs), but we just buy it. St. Elizabeth is the brand you’ll find most often.
- Falernum is a ginger- and lime-flavored syrup. Again, you can make your own, but we just buy whatever our liquor store has in stock.
- To make honey simple syrup: Add very hot water to an equal amount of honey (we typically use ½ cup of each). Stir until the honey is completely dissolved. Cool the mixture, then bottle and refrigerate it. The syrup will keep for a couple of weeks.
- Grenadine is easy to make at home. See our recipe.
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial and are not compensated for mentioning brands. We suggest only what we like and buy with our own money.
- Donn Beach probably invented the Rum Julep around 1940. Beach was secretive about his recipes and changed them over time. So it’s difficult to say which of his Rum Julep recipes is the “authentic” one.
- Fortunately, Jeff (Beachbum) Berry has done extraordinary research into Tiki drinks. His books are well worth reading (he has a website too – look him up). The Rum Julep recipe that he includes in Sippin’ Safari was the version served in 1958 at Don the Beachcomber’s Cabaret Restaurant (then part of the International Market Place in Honolulu). Berry obtained the recipe from the unpublished notes of Hank Riddle, a bartender there.
- So about the term “julep”: It probably derives from the ancient Persian gulab, which meant rosewater. Gulab has long been used as a base for traditional medicines. So basically a julep is good medicine. Kinda.
- Today, we use the term “julep” to denote a particular kind of cocktail. And “cocktail” can refer to almost any alcoholic mixed drink. Originally, though, a cocktail was a specific type of drink (a small one made with booze and bitters, usually served in the morning). But there were also slings, flips, swizzles – and juleps. Plus many more. Which just reflects how language evolves and changes over time.
- BTW, the julep was a popular drink in early 19th century America (and probably long before that). Early versions used gin, cognac, and rum. But over time, whiskey became the most common base ingredient. The earliest rum julep probably was similar to the bourbon mint julep we know today. Donn Beach just borrowed the term “julep” for his own concoction.
Take a Shot of This
“Great drink,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “This medicine will cure what ails you.”
“Just what the doctor ordered,” I said.
“The honey simple syrup is health food,” said Mrs K R. “I’m sure of it.”
“Better than a spoonful of sugar to help this go down,” I said. “Heh, heh!”
“I’ve heard laughter is the best medicine,” said Mrs K R. “Not that I’d know about that from your ‘jokes’.”
Oops. Think Mrs K R just delivered a dose of my own medicine.
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