My Dear General Connor:
Your letter requesting
my formula for mixing mint juleps leaves me in the same position in which Captain Barber
found himself when asked how he was able to carve the image of an elephant from a block of
wood. He said that it was a simple process consisting merely of whittling off the part
that didn't look like an elephant.
The preparation of the quintessence of
gentlemanly beverages can be described only in like terms. A mint julep is not a product
of a formula. It is a ceremony and must be performed by a gentleman possessing a true
sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients and a proper appreciation of
the occasion. It is a rite that must not be entrusted to a novice, a statistician nor a
Yankee. It is a heritage of the Old South, and emblem of hospitality, and a vehicle in
which noble minds can travel together upon the flower-strewn paths of a happy and
So far as the mere mechanics of the operation
are concerned, the procedure, stripped of its ceremonial embellishments, can be described
Go to a spring where cool, crystal-clear water
bubbles from under a bank of dew-washed ferns. In a consecrated vessel, dip up a little
water at the source. Follow the stream thru its banks of green moss and wild flowers until
it broadens and trickles thru beds of mint growing in aromatic profusion and waving softly
in the summer breeze. Gather the sweetest and tenderest shoots and gently carry them home.
Go to the sideboard and select a decanter of Kentucky Bourbon distilled by a master hand,
mellowed with age, yet still vigorous and inspiring. An ancestral sugar bowl, a row of
silver goblets, some spoons and some ice and you are ready to start.
Into a canvas bag pound twice as much ice as
you think you will need. Make it fine as snow, keep it dry and do not allow it to
degenerate into slush. Into each goblet, put a slightly heaping teaspoonful of granulated
sugar, barely cover this with spring water and slightly bruise one mint leaf into this,
leaving the spoon in the goblet. Then pour elixir from the decanter until the goblets are
about one-fourth full. Fill the goblets with snowy ice, sprinkling in a small amount of
sugar as you fill. Wipe the outside of the goblets dry, and embellish copiously with mint.
Then comes the delicate and important operation
of frosting. By proper manipulation of the spoon, the ingredients are circulated and
blended until nature, wishing to take a further hand and add another of its beautiful
phenomena, encrusts the whole in a glistening coat of white frost.
Thus harmoniously blended by the deft touches
of a skilled hand, you have a beverage eminently appropriate for honorable men and
When all is ready, assemble your guests on the
porch or in the garden where the aroma of the juleps will rise heavenward and make the
birds sing. Propose a worthy toast, raise the goblets to your lips, bury your nose in the
mint, inhale a deep breath of its fragrance and sip the nectar of the gods.
Being overcome with thirst, I can write no
Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner, Jr.
VMI Class of 1906