Nothing says spring, or the Kentucky Derby, like a julep. While it’s tough to improve upon a classic, we figured that Adams Morgan bartender Trevor Frye was up to it. He gave us his take, which you can kick up several hundred notches with a bonkers homemade tea syrup.

“I used my experience at the Derby as inspiration for this julep from a sensory level,” says Trevor. “Early May in Kentucky is a beautiful time to be there, and there is a wonderful mix of bourbon and floral smells that grace you as you enter Churchill Downs. The chamomile tea was a natural draw to those floral qualities with the way it paired with the mint, and the teapot bitters have some perfume qualities that just add that Big-Hat-all-dressed-up feel to the drink as well. Using the essential oils for the mint its two-fold: one, it’s much easier to provide a consistent drink by using the essential oils for taste, and two, I don’t care how well you are dressed, no one looks good with chunks of mint in their teeth.”

Photo: Eric Helgas/Styling: Ali Nardi

Until The Sun Comes Up

Ingredients:

  • 1.33 ounce Bulleit bourbon
  • 0.75 ounce chamomile mint Arabic gomme syrup
  • 2 dashes tea bitters
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig and powdered sugar garnish
  • 4 chamomile tea bags (Mighty Leaf if you have it)
  • Sugar
  • 2-3 drops spearmint extract
  • 0.65 grams gum Arabic powder

Directions:

  • Steep the chamomile in 32 oz of 200 F water for 5-6 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags and stir in equal parts tea to sugar. Mix well.
  • Add the spearmint extract and gum Arabic powder.
  • Using a blender, blend the mixture together until well mixed.
  • Let the syrup sit out uncovered to cool and settle.

    • Combine the bourbon, syrup, and bitters in a shaker tin.
    • Add ice, and shake and strain into a julep cup.
    • Add crushed ice to fill half the julep cup.
    • Lightly swizzle with a stirring spoon, top with crushed ice.
    • Add a sprig of pineapple mint, a light dusting of sugar, and a short metal straw.

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