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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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Last week, I was having a highly-excited conversation with a friend of mine who is headed back to North Carolina (we’re both currently in Arizona). In addition to everything else she had to look forward to from her trip, I just knew hushpuppies had to be on the list — after all, we are both obsessed with the Cook-Out version! Y’all, I once drove all the way from Florida to North Carolina, and once I crossed the state line my first stop was Cook-Out, just for hushpuppies!

No surprise then, that today’s Southern Delicacy is one of my very favorite foods of all time. I actually judge the Southern-ness of restaurants on the quality of their hushpuppies (and fried pickles!).

Gourmet hushpuppies photo by Harwell Photography via Southern Weddings and hush puppy pie plate signage photo by Dave Lapham via Southern Weddings

A hushpuppy (or fried cornbread ball, for my Northern friends) is a savory treat made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked in small ball shapes. Frequently served as a side dish, usually at seafood restaurants or barbecues, these yummy little bites supposedly originated in the 1800’s in Native American cooking. (Fun fact: Lots of food we consider traditional Southern fare, like grits, actually originated from Native American tribes!)

With a little more research, I also found that some say hushpuppies originated in the settlement of Nouvell Orleans (later called New Orleans) in the 1700’s, created by a group of Ursuline nuns from France. The nuns used cornmeal to create a delicious food they called croquettes de maise. These croquettes spread rapidly through the Southern states and eventually came to be known as hushpuppies!

Shrimp and okra hushpuppies, hoppin’ John hushpuppies, shrimp and okra hushpuppies, and crab cake hushpuppies

Beyond the delicious taste of these little guys, I love the story of their name. According to Southern folklore, the first recorded reference to the word “hush-puppy” dates to 1899. The name “hushpuppies” is attributed to hunters and fishermen, who would fry a basic cornmeal mixture and toss it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-fries.

Other hush puppy legends attribute the term “hushpuppies” to the Civil War, during which soldiers supposedly tossed fried cornbread to quell the barks of Confederate dogs!

Red velvet hushpuppies from Best Friends for Frosting and apple cider hushpuppies from The Cozy Apron

Aren’t these sweet varieties so fun? They look delicious!

No matter the origin, I just love the stories behind this delicacy! I think they would make a fun cocktail hour ‘pass,’ or I’d love to see a hushpuppy bar with all the different variations. Mmm, I’m thinking a Southern road trip is in order!

Where are your favorite hushpuppies from? I’d love to try a different version, so share your favorite hushpuppy-serving restaurants in the comments below!

Harwell Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Jessica reply

    Was just wondering where the name “hushpuppies” came from the other day with my family at a Seafood restaurant !

  2. avatar Laura reply

    When I took the quiz last week, I said that my favorite southern delicacy was hushpuppies! I’m partial to the kind served at barbeque restaurants myself, those tend to be more hot-dog shaped instead of round. And a sack of hushpuppies from Cook-Out for less than $2? You can’t beat that!

  3. avatar Kristin reply

    All this hush puppy talk has me craving a trip to the beach to visit my favorite seafood (hush puppy) restaurants. Yumm-o.

  4. avatar Jessica Clinch reply

    My favorite hushpuppies are from Cook-Out too! Thank goodness we have one so close to Elon :) I’d love to try those crab cake hushpuppies- they look delicious!

  5. avatar Allyson reply

    Cook-Out hushpuppies are so good! The bad thing is that there is a cookout on the street right behind my house, it’s so dangerous. I also judge all BBQ restaurants by their hushpuppies, it can make or break it for me.

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    My wedding is THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!!! :-) And we are serving hush puppies on a bed of pulled pork in a martini glass during the cocktail hour. :-) soooo excited!!

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During baseball season, I spend the majority of my nights talking myself out of eating ballpark food. The smell of funnel cake and caramelized pecans can be quite persuasive, y’all! I’m lucky to have made some amazing girlfriends from around the world in the stands, and we all try to hold strong together. One of my best girls is from Minot, North Dakota.

Yes, our accents are very different, and so is our culture. Y’all, she had never had a boiled peanut! What? I know! This summer I took it upon myself to introduce her to this yummy delicacy – she thought they tasted like little potatoes!

Clockwise from top: Recipe and photography by Our Life in the Kitchen, recipe for Hot Spiced Boiled Peanuts and plain Boiled Peanuts, both from Southern Living

Originally called “goober peas” (LOVE!), boiled peanuts have been a staple in the deep South since the 19th century. When the peanut crops were ready, unsold stock would be prepared in a “boiling,” and extended families and neighbors would gather to share conversation and food. Sounds just like the South, right? Unsurprisingly, boiled peanuts are still a symbol of Southern culture and cuisine.

Raw (or “green”) peanuts in the shell are put in a large pot of very heavily salted water and boiled, generally from four to seven hours and using several gallons of water. A tip: green peanuts cook faster and tend to be better tasting! Modern cooks sometimes use crock pots, but I still think it would be fun to make a day of it and invite your friends and neighbors over for an old fashioned boiling! Interesting boiled peanut fact: on May 1, 2006, Governor Mark Sanford signed a bill making boiled peanuts the official snack food of South Carolina! Closer to home, they are also an all time favorite of our own Ms. Lara!

CWF Photography

We love the idea of boiled peanuts as wedding favors or late night snacks!

Will you be incorporating boiled peanuts in to your wedding? Do you have a favorite Southern food? Let me know in the comments below!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Megan reply

    Boiled peanuts are my absolute favorite! Pick some up every weekend to take out on the boat. They are my one request to my future in-laws for the rehearsal dinner. :)

    • avatar Linghesh reply

      Boiled peanuts always remind me of late summer nights eating al fresco and talking until the stars come out. They also make a great snack for a day spent hiking.

  2. avatar Bobbi reply

    I’m from ND but had the pleasure of living in SC for 2 yrs and loved boiled peanuts. I think I need to make some now!

  3. avatar Amy reply

    I have friends that always serve boiled peanuts as a appetizer when they’re hosting a dinner party but they always taste best with Savannah Sand Gnats baseball!

  4. avatar Whitney reply

    Love love love this idea! Where did you get the printed paper bags?

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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