Friday, July 23, 2010

Williamsburg's Best Mint Julep

As summer was approaching we were trying to decide where we would go for vacation over the break. Since I was having a Mint Julep attack, it was easily decided to return to our old stomping grounds in Williamsburg.

After all that was the first place I had ever had the pleasure of tasting a Mint Julep. Certainly the drink is a favorite at the Kentucky Derby and of course I'd always heard that a Mint Julep should be enjoyed while sitting under a Magnolia Tree. However I enjoyed my first Mint Julep at
Josiah Chownings.

I have often gone online and searched cookbooks for the recipe however I have never been able to replicate the Mint Juleps I have had in Williamsburg.

Since our first year's visit to Williamsburg, we have returned almost yearly always scheduling our departing from home such that we would arrive in time to have our first meal at Chownings'. Oh, and of course my Mint Julep. This year was no different.

Upon our arrival we unloaded our car at the hotel and immediately set off for Colonial Williamsburg and Chownings Tavern. It was a very hot day so I knew that first Mint Julep was going to really hit the spot. Normally there's a long line waiting to be seated as they don't take reservations. However we lucked out and were immediately transported through time to the 1700's and seated within. Since it was evening Gambols' Light Fare menu was offered at Chownings. Our server was prompt in waiting on us taking my Mint Julep order immediately.

Shortly thereafter the first Mint Julep of our trip arrived. My fix was at last going to be satisfied! As I raised the glass to my lips I noticed it contained a great deal of ice and very little Mint Julep. Even if I had had a straw I might have gotten a sip. By the time the ice had melted enough for me to taste my drink it was watered down. That didn't stop me from ordering a second one though. The second one had a fraction less ice and I did manage to get a taste by taking some of the ice out of the glass. Very disappointing but not the end of all ends. We still had reservations at Kings Arms and Shields Taverns.

Now it became a quest to find the best Mint Julep in Colonial Williamsburg. I dug my heels in and began the taste testing. Next on the list was Kings Arms Tavern.

We had reservations at Kings Arms Tavern the second night. Once again we entered the time machine to the early 1700's. Our server there was also prompt in taking our drink order. As I placed mine for the Mint Julep I happened to mention that I was disappointed with Chownings' because of all the ice. Our server offered to request less ice so that I could enjoy the full flavor of the drink. Yes!!! Ah, it was good but the taste test wasn't over yet.

The next day we headed back to Colonial Williamsburg and lunch at Chowning Tavern. The day was even warmer then the previous day in which I was sure I had suffered from heat exhaustion. However that did not deter me from returning to Chownings to once again taste test their Mint Julep. Yes, I had Mint Juleps for lunch and dinner. This time at Chownings however I requested less ice.

As our server placed the drink in front of me, she informed me that the bar server indicated that he usually puts less ice in his drinks. It was obvious that just the right amount of ice cooled the drink. I took my first sip and WOW! Now that's the way I had remembered a Mint Julep should taste. I definitely wanted our server to let the bar server know that it was perfect! She shared that Harry, young Harry, was the the preparer and she would share my compliments.

That evening we had reservations at Shields Tavern. The family likes Shields but I have to say their menu leaves a lot to be desired by me. However I could manage as long as they had Mint Juleps. The server there too was prompt and attentive to our orders. I was on my toes and requested less ice automatically. My Mint Julep arrived and immediately I was disappointed. There was definitely less ice as well as less everything else. The drink was smaller and didn't even come close to what I had tasted earlier in the day. Harry where were you????

The next day we were scheduled to leave. We always take our time leaving Williamsburg as we want to have one last meal at Chownings Tavern. This day was no different because I couldn't leave with that final awful tasting Mint Julep from Shields lingering in my memory.

We did up Merchants Square and walked on down to Chownings. It was another very hot day and by the time we arrived I was ready! As luck would have it we were seated in the bar area and who should be the bar server but Harry!!

As our server took our orders I made sure I added to mine that I had had the best Mint Julep the day before and our server had told me that Harry had prepared it. Yep, it was loud enough for him to hear me and the challenge was on! I watched as Harry prepared my special drink. Then unexpectedly he even served it. Awwww..... it was great!!! I ate my Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich, which was delicious, and drank my Mint Julep. It was so good and I had a long ride ahead of me that I just had to order a second one. Ah, what a nice way to leave Williamsburg.

Harry has revived my lust for the Mint Julep and has developed the BEST Mint Julep in Williamsburg. Thank you Harry!!!

To view more of our fun in Williamsburg check out

Firecrackinmama's World: Christmas Road Trip - Part V - Always Something New!
One of the parts listed is on Food Porn!

Have a Firecrackin Great Day!