A Champagne Julep is just what you’d expect (unlike the Pineapple Julep), a Mint Julep but with Champagne. Not only does the name have a highly satisfying ring to it, but the drink itself is truly a knockout. It is much lower octane, but just as refreshing and festive, if not more so, which makes it the perfect alternative to a classic Mint Julep to serve at a Kentucky Derby party.
Recipes for this have varied over time, as cocktail recipes tend to do. The earliest appears in Harry Johnson’s 1882 Bartender’s Manual, and calls for the bare essentials: Champagne, mint and sugar - though he contrasts that by garnishing it with a cornucopia of fruit, as I have done here. By the 1933 edition of “Here’s How”, a full jigger (1 ½ oz) of brandy has found it’s way in there, plus lemon juice for some reason. Today many recipes are composed more like a brandy/cognac julep, with 2 full ounces of spirit, that is topped with Champagne.
But seeing this is a Champagne julep, I think the base should be Champagne. Not only is it more sensible, but it makes a better drink. Though adding a little bit of cognac is a still nice touch, it gives the drink some backbone. Ideally use something higher proof, like Louis Royer Force 53.
3 oz (or so) Champagne or dry sparkling wine
½ oz cognac - preferably higher proof
¾ oz simple syrup
10-12 mint leaves - no stems
In a highball or collins glass, muddle the mint leaves with the simple syrup. Add the cognac and fill halfway with crushed ice, or the smallest ice cubes you have. Slowly pour the Champagne so that it doesn't foam up too much - though it will some.
To mix, plunge a barspoon to the bottom of the glass once or twice while twisting it. Be careful not to agitate too much or you'll lose the bubbles. Top off with more crushed ice and maybe a splash more of Champagne. Garnish with mint sprigs and any fresh fruit you have on hand.
If you make a Champagne Julep, let me see!
Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.
For more details on julep preparation, history
and those cool silver cups, visit the Mint Julep page.