Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mint Juleps & General Buckner


Re-post thanks to mind jog from Miss V.

Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.
(foreground, holding camera),
photographed with Major General
Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., USMC,
on Okinawa.


Confederate Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.

================================

Letter from Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. USA (VMI -1906, West Point -1908, killed on Okinawa, 18 June 1945) to the Major General Wm. D. Connor, Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. This Gen. Bucker was the son of Confederate Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.



"30 March 1937

My Dear General Conner:

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; an emblem of hospitality and a vehicle in which noble minds can travel together upon the flower-strewn paths of a happy and congenial thought.

So far as the mere mechanics of the operation are concerned, the procedure, stripped of its ceremonial embellishments, can be described as follows:

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 through its banks of green moss and wild flowers until it broadens and trickles through 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 vigourous 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 spoons, 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 honourable men and beautiful women.

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 further.

Sincerely,

Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner, Jr.

VMI Class of 1906"

6 comments:

  1. I love it. May I make a copy for my cookbook? All recipes are better with a back story. ;)

    Miss Violet

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  2. Of course. Better mix one up also.:)

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    Replies
    1. I have a four day weekend off for Labor Day, I plan on doing just that. :) Tracking down the ingredients starting today.
      Gotta run, work calls.
      Miss V

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  3. Greetings:

    When I was a boy, we sailed from Seattle, Washington to Yokohama, Japan on the "USNS GENERAL M. M. PATRICK" (AP-150).

    When we returned to the United States, we sailed from Yokohama, Japan to San Francisco, California on the "USNS GENERAL SIMON B. BUCKNER".

    Here is the URL of a slide show of photographs of my boyhood, including photographs of the "USNS GENERAL SIMON B. BUCKNER" (T-AP-123):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/writesong/sets/72157600591042868/show/

    Be sure to watch the slide show in "FULL SCREEN" mode, so you can get a better view of the ship.

    When I was living in Washington, D.C. at the Ol' Soldiers' Home, one of the guys I used to eat chow with told me he had sailed to Bremerhaven, Germany on the "USNS GENERAL SIMON B. BUCKNER" (T-AP-123).

    Here is an official United States Navy web site regarding the "USNS GENERAL SIMON B. BUCKNER" (T-AP-123):

    http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-g/ap123.htm

    Thank you.

    John Robert Mallernee
    Armed Forces Retirement Home
    Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

    ReplyDelete