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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Mint Julep

January 30, 2006

The Mint Julep

Rule number 237 of the 362 Undeniable Truths of the Deep South Restaurant Business is: True Southerners never drink mint juleps.

When a customer steps up to the bar in a Southern restaurant and orders a mint julep, we already know five things about him:

1.) He comes from North of the Mason Dixon line. Usually a state such as Rhode Island or Connecticut.
2.) He is amazed that everyone is wearing shoes down here.
3.) He thinks he is hearing a foreign language when the bartender uses the terms, “Ma’am,” and “Sir.”
4.) He will try to slip the word “y’all” into a sentence, but use it in the singular.
5.) He will make a hilarious lemon-squinted face once he tastes the mint julep.
6.) He will then order a glass of white zinfandel or strawberry daiquiri and ask when the next Civil War reenactment is scheduled.

Some Northern tourists believe the South is still nothing more than Gone with the Wind and Jim Crow. To those people, the Southerner falls into one of two categories: The poor, barefooted child walking down a dirt road, or Big Daddy in his seersucker suit sitting on the front porch of an antebellum mansion sipping a mint julep.

It’s ridiculous, and akin to saying that everyone from California is a surfer, everyone from Texas is a cowboy, and everyone from New York is rude. Well, two out of three…

Outside of Louisville, Kentucky on Derby Day, no one in the South drinks mint juleps (even on Derby Day, Kentuckians don’t enjoy them). People who say they like to drink mint juleps only enjoy the romantic thought of drinking mint juleps. At any rate, Kentucky is barely in the south and its proximity to Ohio leaves it suspect

My Aunt Virginia occasionally drank mint juleps, but she moved to Maryland in her youth and took to drinking scotch and milk later in life. I always supposed that anyone who could mix milk with scotch was suffering from lifeless taste buds to begin with. To her, mint juleps probably tasted fine.

In a word, mint juleps… suck. Maybe that’s three words, or it could be six, nevertheless, you get the picture.

Therefore, I submit for your perusal, The 10 Irrefutable Truths of Mint-Julep Drinking Tourists from the North:

1.) They will order a Coke by calling it a “Pop.”
2.) If they muster the courage to order grits, they will put sugar on them.
3.) Even though their mother has a double last name, they will make fun of the waitress’s double first name.
4.) They will be surprised when the iced tea arrives at the table already sweetened— and heavily so.
5.) They have more than likely contemplated vegetarianism at least once in the last three months.
6.) The waitress will think that they, too, talk funny, but will be too polite to say so.
7.) At least twice during the course of the meal, they will call a crawfish a “Crawdad.”
8.) They will remove the three cheeses, fried croutons, and all of the ham and bacon from the restaurant’s heart-healthy salad offering.
9.) They will have no clue that catfish is truly the other white meat.
10.) They will quickly learn that the best parking space was not the one closest to the door, which was puzzlingly available when they arrived, but the one way across the parking lot in the shade

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