Best Mint Julep (2004)
Cotton Exchange Bar We like toasting our balmy weather with a light beer in a cheap koozie. But sometimes we feel more genteel, and that's when we head to the Cotton Exchange Bar for a mint julep. A true speakeasy marked only by the "808" on a black awning, the bar/lounge is housed in the historic building of the same name, a once-bustling center of trade and commerce in 1890s Houston. The Exchange's julep harks back to those older days, when sweaty businessmen would simmer down over the minty, icy bourbon cooler. Watching its creation is a lesson in bar science: Bartenders here muddle huge mint leaves and then add crushed ice and Maker's Mark bourbon to a silver cup. (The silver creates a chemical reaction with the whiskey, igniting a one-of-a-kind flavor.) Sip from the icy, frosty silver tumbler and you're suddenly more relaxed, more refined, more...Southern. All that's missing is the seersucker.