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We’ve taken a bit of hiatus from our Southern Delicacy features, but in honor of Derby Week, we think the mint julep is a great one to jump back in with!

Photo by The Studio B from Anne + Eric’s wedding

There is just something about those shiny silver mint julep glasses–we love them filled with fresh mint or flowing with flowers. There is no question that that these glasses are the epitome of classic and Southern! How to make a true mint julep remains a hotly debated topic in the world of bar tending and mixology, but the classic version of a mint julep is served in silver julep cups, filled to the brim with a refreshing concoction of the finest bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint, and crushed ice. These classic silver cups should be chilled before being served.

Fun fact: if you want to fit in at the Derby, be sure to hold the glass properly! Only by the bottom and rim of the glass, so one’s hand does not transfer heat to the drink. I imagine Rhett Butler made a mean mint julep, AND knew how to hold the glass!

On left: photo by Elaine Palladino from Baylor + Daniel’s wedding; on right: photo by Ashley Seawell from Sarah + Gabe’s wedding

I was unable to track down the exact origin of the julep, but it is said that the mint julep originated in the Southern United States around the eighteenth century, and can be traced back to a British novel from 1803, in which a traveler wrote about drinking a mint julep at a northern Virginia plantation. It was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” It has also been said that farmers in the South drank mint juleps in the morning, using the mint to jumpstart their days! Yikes, I bet that’d put a pep in your step!

Photos by Katie Stoops from Love in the Commonwealth

The term “julep” is generally defined as a “sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.” The word itself is derived from the Persian word Golâb, meaning “rose water.”

While earlier recipes included many other spirits, such as rum or gin, bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed all others. As a champagne celebration kind of gal myself, I love the twist of a champagne julep! And if you didn’t think the MJ could get any more Southern, there’s the mint julep sweet tea recipe!

On left: photo by Justin DeMutiis from Jessica + Derek’s wedding; on right: photo by Laura Gordon from Ellie + Breck’s wedding

Nowadays, the mint julep is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, and rightly so! The mint julep first became the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938 when they were served them in collectable glasses and sold them for 75 cents apiece. Since then, almost 120,000 mint juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. This feat requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice! Woah!

Now if only I could don some Lilly and my Jacks, and have a silver glass in my hand, I’d be sure to enjoy the Derby! Cheers, y’all!

P.S. Check out our past Delicacies for some yummy treats to accompany your drink!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Kathryn reply

    I am growing mint for the first time this year, and it’s grown like crazy this week! I will have to use it for derby drinks. Thank you for this history.

  2. avatar Veronica reply

    Hey Marisaa,
    Great post.Thanks for sharing.Mint is really beneficial in summers.I love its smell :)

  3. avatar Lisa Hays reply

    Where can I purchase the silver cups? Do they have to be of sterling? And while I’m asking – does anyone know where to get copper cups that Moscow Mules are served in?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Lisa! We love these monogrammed ones from Three Hip Chicks! And these Moscow Mule ones from Sur La Tables:

  4. avatar Matt reply

    Nice summary Marissa…the photography make me thirsty :)

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The bites and beverages have been tasted and the votes have been cast. Y’all, I can barely believe that we have reached the end of the 2014 Southern Weddings Mason-Dixon Madness Tourney. Drumroll please…

Congratulations to our friends at Cheerwine!! We are bubbling over with joy at the chance to crown you the 2014 Mason-Dixon Madness Champion!

Here’s the final look at our bracket:

Can you believe that no one in the Southern Weddings office predicted Cheerwine as their final champion? Hard to believe since Cheerwine is a staple for our office parties and celebrations. Heavens, Emily even transported cases of the bubbly cherry beverage to Connecticut for her reception, and we know she isn’t the only bride who has served ice cold Cheerwine to her guests!

Wanna know a secret? Cheerwine also sells Cheerwine-flavored ice cream and sherbet, and there are piles of recipes (yup, BBQ included) that have cleverly incorporated Cheerwine into the list of ingredients. If you love Cheerwine, there are heaps of ways to incorporate the cherry beverage into your big day!

From top: Millie Holloman, Tanja Lippert (from Emily’s wedding!), Millie Holloman, McDorman Photography, McDorman Photography

I am a firm believe that good manners go a long way, and Cheerwine has been the definition of a gracious Southern contestant. They acknowledged that BBQ is their best friend, but noted there could only be one champ. I imagine there will be bottles of Cheerwine cracked open across the South this afternoon to celebrate! Congratulations, Cheerwine!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lisa L. reply

    I’m a proud Cheerwine bride as well!!! YAY!

    This was such a great feature to the blog! I LOVED checking every week to see what was winning!

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Southern Delicacy: Frito Pie

by in Southern Food on

It has been awhile, but we’re excited to welcome y’all back to the Southern Delicacy series! It’s no secret that one of the great claims to fame/bragging rights of the South is our cuisine, and from our mama’s cooking to the many iconic eateries below the Mason-Dixon, it’s certainly something to celebrate. Take a look here to see our past Southern Delicacy posts, but be warned–don’t look while hungry!

Today’s topic may be considered more specifically a Texas delicacy than a Southern delicacy, but we love it all the same! Frito pie is a staple of Texas sporting stadiums and tailgates, and consists of Fritos chips, chili, onions, and cheese. As Michael Hilton said in the November 1986 issue of Texas Monthly, “Frito pie is a marriage made in heaven…If you want to get technical, Fritos absorb grease, and good chili has a lot of grease. Furthermore, the Frito retains its crispness even when chock-full of grease. The Frito has integrity.” The classic way to serve is to simply rip open a bag of Fritos, layer the other ingredients on top, and eat it straight from the bag, but we’re partial to the slightly more dinner table-appropriate casserole dish versions.

Brown Eyed Baker, Bev Cooks

The exact origins of frito pie are unknown, with two legends competing for credit. One story says that the recipe was created by Daisy Dean Doolin, the mother of Frito-Lay founder, Elmer Doolin, who had supposedly been cooking up frito pie since fritos themselves originated. The other story credits the recipe to Teresa Hernandez, an employee at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who claims to have come up with the recipe in the 1960’s. Woolworth’s (now called Five and Dime General Store) proudly serves frito pie to this day.

Burger via Confections of a Foodie Bride, grilled cheese via Taste Spotting

Frito pie may not be the best fit for a black tie, ballroom wedding, but at a more casual celebration, we especially love it as a late night snack. Set up a frito pie bar so everyone can add their favorite toppings themselves, or serve pre-assembled and passed out to guests. After working up an appetite on the dance floor, we imagine they’d be delighted to indulge in this savory treat!

Jake Holt via Southern Weddings, Stacey E. Photography via BZ Events

Have you ever had frito pie? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it? I’ve only had it in a paper bowl at a baseball game, but I must say, I’m intrigued by the frito pie burger pictured above!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Lisa Hays reply

    As a suburban Dallas mom – of course I’ve served it :). My family loves it. You just gave me a thought – might serve it at my sons’ pre-wedding party where I’m planning a Boots -n- Barbecue theme to welcome his fiancé’s NY family to Texas for the nuptials.

  2. avatar Dana reply

    forgot how much i love fritos…must buy some!

  3. avatar Jenn reply

    I grew up on Frito Pie! As a small town Texas girl, I had one every Friday night in high school. I sold concessions for Leo Club and my teacher/sponsor always saved some for us kids. It always tastes best when your team wins, but is a fine comfort when the game goes south.
    To this day, a football game just doesn’t seem right without Frito Pie.
    Thanks for posting, ladies!

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