Julep versus Smash

Julep versus Smash

Note that in the Julep above, the mint is not pulverized, or ‘smashed.’  In my opinion, that makes it superior to the Smash, in which the mint is smashed and bitter flavor released into the drink.  I prefer a non-smashed Julep with plenty of mint so that I get a good amount of menthol (the alkaloid) into the drink without breaking down the mint so much that other bitter alkaloids (found in the thicker parts of the leaves) are also added.

For those that wonder about the Brandy Smash (No. 2) – it is the same as the No. 1 above, but with Jamaica rum dashed on top after the drink is otherwise finished.

Unfortunately, this is just one more bit of pre-prohibtion American mixological knowledge that seems just a bit to finely-pointed to have survived into modern practice.  I mostly see Smashes served, even though they are called Juleps.

It is also worthy of note that none of the printed recipes for the Mojito Collins (it was early called a Pedro Collins with mint, after all) from the 1930’s and 1940’s ever indicate to crush the mint – it is just shaken with the other shaken ingredients.

Mint is a special lady and she will give you her best only when she is treated gently.

One thought on “Julep versus Smash

  1. Andrew:

    Have you tried doing Nitrous Oxide (iSi whipper) infusions of fresh mint into simple syrup? It doesn’t seem to pull out the bittering enzyme that compromises any mint-flavoured preparation, and the mint aroma and flavour is fully tunable and quite intense.

    David Arnold at the French Culinary Institute (FCI) first publicised the technique as “Infusion Profusion – A Game Changer”. Dave’s started a bar in NYC called Booker & Dax where he applies some of his Modernist techniques to drinks.

    It’s informed by Harold McGee’s revelations that the minty essence resides in the small hairs and organs on the underside of the leaves, and that the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) in the cells of the leaves are responsible for the browning and “swampwater” flavours that result from rupturing those leaves.


    For the finished process detailed end-to-end, see:


    Using “cryo-muddling” certainly seems overkill, but does seem to provide “reference point” results. Interestingly enough, this technique would have been available to 19th Century bartenders pushing the edge, only just.

    Producing liquid N2 is one of the easiest things to do yourself, and the principle behind doing so was well known to scientists of the time. In small amounts, it’s quite safe. Large bottles of it *ARE* dangerous in that it can rapidly “blanket” the breathable atmosphere and induce hypoxia in a way that the human body wasn’t evolved to detect or react to, i.e., you won’t start to feel short of breath or breathe faster.

    Yes, the Cooking Issues article is full of malaprops. Try to ignore those, and the serving vessel. 🙂 I suppose we have Meehan to “thank” for the resurgence of the nasty little round glass, eh?

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