The cornerstone ingredient of a Georgia Julep is peach brandy. Back in the late 19th century, this did not mean a sweet peach liqueur or peach-flavored brandy, but rather a full proof, barrel aged brandy distilled entirely from peaches. Sadly, there are very few genuine peach brandies available nowadays and they are not widely circulated (though the good news is that there are any at all, there were none a few years ago). In lieu of peach brandy, I recommend using a high-quality peach liqueur - recommendations below - which still makes a fantastic drink.
As for the base spirit, I’ve taken some big liberties by using bourbon in my recipe here, it's really more of an adaptation. The traditional Georgia Julep had a split base of cognac and peach brandy. But I find that combo falls a little flat, with the cognac being overly floral and lacking spine, whereas bourbon smacks it right out of the park. If you're worried about being chastised by the cocktail police, substitute in cognac in the recipes below, and call the (superior) bourbon version a Peach Julep.
2½ oz bourbon
½ oz peach liqueur - I recommend Massenez, Giffard, Mathilde or Merlet
¼ oz simple syrup
10-12 mint leaves - no stems
In a julep cup or rocks glass, muddle the mint leaves with the simple syrup - be careful not to "over-muddle". Add the whiskey and fill 3/4 of the way with crushed ice or the smallest ice cubes you have.
Gently stir until frost appears on the outside of the glass. If you have the time (and patience), let it sit for a minute or so for optimal chill and dilution. Top with more crushed ice so it forms a mound above the cup/glass. Garnish with mint sprigs and peach slices.
With Peach Brandy
Of the handful of peach brandies I’ve tried, the best one far and away is Peach Street Distillers Peach Brandy. It is not easy to find and not cheap, but if you can get your hands on some, you absolutely must make this recipe.
1½ oz bourbon (cognac works ok here too)
¾ oz Peach Street Distillers Peach Brandy
¼ oz peach liqueur - see brands listed above.
¼ oz simple syrup
10-12 mint leaves
Prepare as above.
You might be wondering why I don’t advocate for muddling a few slices in of peach into the drink. While I generally opt to use fresh ingredients whenever I can, fresh peach is frustratingly difficult to work with cocktails. For one, you need a lot of it - like half a peach - for the bright flavor you are looking for to come through, and that’s only if you have a perfectly ripe peach, which happens what, 5% of the time? A good peach liqueur is more concentrated and has more of the aromatic qualities needed to evoke fresh peach flavor in a way that is satisfying, even when used in very small quantities. Just be sure you get a good one, stay away from the cheaper options on the bottom shelf.
This drink first appears, as far as I can tell, in the 1887 printing of Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide, not the original 1862. This was after Thomas’ death in 1885. So the drink probably shouldn’t be attributed to him.
If you make a Georgia 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.