2 oz. Bourbon or rye
1/2 oz. mint syrup
Fill a highball glass or julep cup with finely crushed ice. Stir together the spirit and syrup and pour over the ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve with short straws.
Mint Syrup: Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and add about 12 mint sprigs (1 bunch) to steep for at least 20 minutes until the syrup develops a mint flavor. Cool to room temperature, strain into a clean container, and store in the refrigerator.
The traditional method of making juleps is to gently muddle a handfull of mint leaves in the bottom of a cup with sugar or simple syrup, and then build the rest of the ingredients on top. I prefer to make the mint syrup, especially if making a lot of these, plus you don't end up with mint leaves clogging your straw.
The mint julep first appeared in print in 1803 as a "dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning." The origins of the drink itself are a little fuzzy, but likely come from the julab. A julab is an Arabic drink made centuries ago with water and rose petals. When introduced to the Mediterranean, the rose petals were replaced with the indigenous mint. Great post with videos on how to, and how not to, make a mint julep here.