Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, here are ingredients and techniques on making the traditional Derby sweet concoction: The Mint Julep
For me there is no better harbinger of the seasonal change to Spring than the Run For The Roses, the Kentucky Derby.
Known as the “fastest two minutes in sports,” the 139th Kentucky Derby will commence when the bell rings and the gate opens at Churchill Downs on Saturday. A field of 20 horses is expected to charge down the dirt track in front of the iconic Twin Spires in pursuit of history. Over 160,000 spectators will cheer for their favorites. Memories will be made, money will be won and lost, and many of the attendees will spend Sunday salving their well-earned hangovers.
Along with the donning of extravagant chapeaus, and the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home,” one of the more hallowed Derby traditions is the consumption of more than one Mint Julep. This sweet, toxic concoction has led many a race goer to ruin and frankly, the syrupy sweet offerings at the Churchill Downs are about as inviting as a New Orleans Hurricane. Both are merely headaches in a glass.
- Start by buying a bottle of Woodford Reserve, “The Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby” (which is not to be confused with The Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby, a julep made with Early Times, a Kentucky Whiskey). Woodford is an excellent small batch Bourbon and it will make all the difference.
- Take a Collins or highball glass, basically a tall tumbler, and add either ½ oz of simple syrup (Homemade simple syrup is easy. Just place a half cup of sugar into a half cup of water, put on a stove and stir until the sugar melts, pour into a bottle and let cool) or two sugar cubes.
- Add a few sprigs of mint and muddle (mash) the sugar and the mint together in the bottom of the glass. Let the concoction sit for a minute or two to truly infuse the flavors and aromas.
- Next add three ounces of the Woodford Reserve.
- Finish it off with crushed ice to the top of the glass and stir vigorously to chill the cocktail. Garnish with a sprig or two of mint.
This is basically a Mojito with Bourbon instead of Rum and it will pack a punch. The drink is made for sipping so don’t try to down one in the time it takes the horses to run mile and a quarter.
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