It is hot out there! It’s hot every summer in the South, but it still seems to be one of our favorite topics of conversation. And we always talk as if it is some sort of surprise. “Can you believe how hot it is? It might hit 105° today!” But somehow we manage. Our homes are air-conditioned, our porches have fans, and our clothes are made of seersucker and light linen. We love a good cold meal, like tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese and cold wedge of watermelon.
Our primary tool for keeping our cool is endless pitchers of cold sweet tea, and after five o’clock, icy mint juleps, served in chilled silver cups, cool to the touch with a bracing drip of cold condensation. Tea is refreshing, bourbon is revivifying. Combine the two in a minty punch and you’ll have a whole new outlook on life. Try it in a julep cup, but a plastic cup is just fine. You may not even mind the heat!
Sweet Tea Julep
7 cups water, divided
2 cups sugar
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
3 family-sized black tea bags
1 ½ cups bourbon
Stir together 4 cups of water and the sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the mint leaves and tea bags. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Leave the mint leaves in while the mixture cools to room temperature.
Strain the tea into a pitcher. Stir in 3 cups of water and the bourbon. Chill, then serve over lots of ice, garnished with mint sprigs.
Makes about 9 cups