While I can’t tell you the name or location of this plantation, I can tell you an interesting story from the plantation’s past. When I started researching the house, I was able to talk to several of the locals who live near the plantation. One gentleman, whose family had owned a neighboring plantation for generations, allowed me to come to his home to look around and to hear about the plantation we are working to open. One of the past owners of our plantation was a family member from his family and he shared a personal story that had been passed down through the generations.
In the 1800s this gentleman’s ancestors purchased our plantation. They were a very prominent family in the area. Three of the owner’s family also owned other plantations in the area. It was a custom for this family to come together for afternoon drinks before dinner. Below is the story as it was handed down:
“Mr. ‘W.A.R.’ who attended the ‘T’ Family reunion in 1948, told the story of how his Uncle ‘C.T.’, ‘Prince’ of our plantation, Cousin ‘G.T.’, ‘Duke’ of his plantation, Cousin ‘R.T.’, ‘Count’ of his plantation and Cousin ‘W.P.’, ‘Earl’ of his plantation used to get together in the afternoons at their plantations for a social mint julep and congenial discussion of current affairs.
But they had a rule that they would never touch their mint juleps until the stroke of five o’clock. On one occasion at our plantation as they sat looking at their watches restlessly waiting for the appointed time, Cousin ‘G.T.’ said that by his watch it was exactly five o’clock and proceeded to take a sip of his mint julep. Cousin ‘C.T.’ said it was only two minutes till five and thereupon arose a furious discussion of the relative accuracy of their watches. So intense the argument grew that the party broke up and they did not speak again for months.”
How you ever heard the saying, “It’s five o’clock somewhere”?
In the Victorian period, it was improper to drink before five o’clock. That is why there was such a dispute about the time in this story. So in keeping with this tradtion, our bed and breakfast will have a social hour at 5pm (exactly) each day. This will be a Wine and Cheese Reception, but we will also have mint juleps each day so that we can keep this family history alive.
Tonight, for mother’s day, we went to a favorite restaurant for dinner. It was a little busy so we decided to sit at the bar. While there, we asked the bartender about how a mint julep was made. Angel, the bartender, was nice enough to show me how to make it. Surprising it was very easy!
You take some mint leaves and sugar and muddle them in a tumbler. Angel told me that you should rinse the pestle with soda water in the glass to rinse off the mint leaves (don’t fill the glass, just a light rinse). This releases the essential oils and juices into the drink. Then you add a jigger of good bourbon (he suggests Maker’s Mark) and fill the glass with crushed ice. Then fill the rest of the glass with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
From my reading about mint juleps, I learned that the drink is traditionally served in a silver or pewter cup and is held at the bottom or top of the cup to allow a frost to form on the outside of the cup. This also helps to prevent the heat from your hand from transferring to the cup and warming your mint julep.
Thanks Angel for your expert instruction!