The Mint Julep

By Charles Fenno Hoffman

Tis said that the gods on Olympus of old
(And who the bright legend profanes with a doubt?)
One night, ’mid their revels, by Bacchus were told
That his last butt of nectar had somehow run out!

But determined to send round the goblet once more,
They sued to the fairer immortals for aid
In composing a draught which, till drinking were o’er,
Should cast every wine ever drank in the shade.

Grave Ceres herself blithely yielded her corn,
And the spirit that lives in each amber-hued grain,
And which first had its birth from the dew of the morn,
Was taught to steal out in bright dewdrops again.

Pomona, whose choicest of fruits on the board
Were scattered profusely in every one’s reach,
When called on a tribute to cull from the hoard,
Expressed the mild juice of the delicate peach.

The liquids were mingled while Venus looked on
With glances so fraught with sweet magical power,
That the honey of Hybla, e’en when they were gone,
Has never been missed in the draught from that hour.

Flora, then, from her bosom of fragrancy, shook,
And with roseate fingers pressed down in the bowl,
All dripping and fresh as it came from the brook,
The herb whose aroma should flavor the whole.

The draught was delicious, and loud the acclaim,
Though something seemed wanting for all to bewail,
But Juleps the drink of immortals became,
When Jove himself added a handful of hail.


Ad of the Week: Heublein’s Milshire Dry Gin

Heublein is one of the forgotten success stories in the American spirits industry.

Based in Connecticut, Heublein started off as a restaurant and hotel business in 1862. The company began selling premixed cocktails in 1892. Three years later, it buys up A1 Steak Sauce, in a fortuitous move that eventually helps it survive Prohibition.

Then in 1939, Heublein makes a deal that at the time seemed crazy, but today looks very much like the large vat of gold coins that Scrooge McDuck likes to swim in; in 1939, Heublein buys the rights to Smirnoff Vodka. Heublein eventually has either full ownership of, or the distribution rights to, an impressive portfolio of spirits, wines, and beers: Don Q rum, Cuervo tequila, Black & White blended scotch, Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry, Guinness stout, Bass ale, Hamm’s beer, and Inglenook wines. Further, Heublein diversified  into foods, owning KFC, Ortega Mexican foods, and Grey Poupon, among others.

Heublein may be the biggest name you’ve (probably) never heard of. So what happened to Heublein? Mergers and acquisitions. In 1982, RJ Reynolds purchased the company. After Reynolds merged with Nabisco in 1985, RJRNabisco started selling off its Heublein holdings. Finally, in 1987, RJRN sold Heublein’s booze portfolio to Grand Metropolitan … which may be another biggest name you’ve (probably) never heard of.

So, what then happened to Grand Met? A 1997 merger with Guinness happened, forming a company you probably have heard of: Diageo. (If you haven’t, you’ve heard of its brands:  Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, Seagram’s, and Bushmills, among others.)

But Heublein marketed its own line of spirits. Here’s an ad from January 11, 1937, for one of its gin brands. Note that the ad even mentions the premixed cocktails that Heublein offers.


Incidentally, I do have some ads that feature the Club Cocktail line, and I’ll get to them soon enough, but there’s already a great write-up of the line at 12 Bottle Bar.

No tonic for the body

THE MINT JULEP: The Very Dream of Drinks

by Joshua Soule Smith

Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure. Then comes the julep—the mint julep. Who has not tasted one has lived in vain. The honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul; the nectar of the Gods is tame beside it. It is the very dream of drinks, the vision of sweet quaffings. The Bourbon and the mint are lovers. In the same land they live, on the same food they are fostered. The mint dips its infant leaf into the same stream that makes the bourbon what it is. The corn grows in the level lands through which small streams meander. By the brook-side the mint grows. As the little wavelets pass, they glide up to kiss the feet of the growing mint, the mint bends to salute them. Gracious and kind it is, living only for the sake of others. The crushing of it only makes its sweetness more apparent. Like a woman’s heart, it gives its sweetest aroma when bruised. Among the first to greet the spring, it comes. Beside the gurgling brooks that make music in the pastures it lives and thrives.

When the Blue Grass begins to shoot its gentle sprays toward the sun, mint comes, and its sweetest soul drinks at the crystal brook. It is virgin then. But soon it must be married to Old Bourbon. His great heart, his warmth of temperament, and that affinity which no one understands, demand the wedding. How shall it be? Take from the cold spring some water, pure as angels are; mix it with sugar until it seems like oil. Then take a glass and crush you mint within it with a spoon—crush it around the borders of the glass and leave no place untouched. Then throw the mint away—it is a sacrifice.

Fill with cracked ice the glass; pour in the quantity of Bourbon which you want. It trickles slowly through the ice. Let it have time to col, then pour your sugared water over it. No spoon is needed, no stirring is allowed—just let it stand a moment. Then around the brim place sprigs of mint, so that the one who drinks may find a taste and odor at one draught.

When it is made, sip it slowly. August suns are shining, the breath of the south wind is upon you. It is fragrant, cold and sweet—it is seductive. No maiden’s touch could be more passionate. Sip it and dream, it is a dream itself. No other land can give so sweet a solace for your cares; no other liquor soothes you so in melancholy days. Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like Old Bourbon whiskey.