In order to avoid the mad dash to post about juleps yesterday I decided to hold back. It was also a day that comes around every couple of years when Cinco de Mayo falls on Derby Day. Cinco de Mayo of course being a celebration of the day Mexico beat France at the Battle of Puebla (1862) and The Kentucky Derby is the first race of the Triple Crown that is then followed by the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes later in the coming weeks.
Usually on the first Saturday in May I do a few things out of the ordinary the way Louisville, Kentucky has been doing on this day consecutively since 1875. I take the day off, I polish a silver julep cup, I wear white and I gamble. The Race for the Roses has been called the “most exciting two minutes in sports” but this year we had already split a few margaritas on the roof and had dozed off by post time. Getting old is tough.
I do want to walk you through my julep though.
I assume you have a bottle of Bourbon that is sitting around the house somewhere. Check your husband's desk drawer? You should also own a julep cup if you are an adult. I try to buy a new one every year (that doesn't fall on Cinco de Mayo) and that allows me to invite another friend over to watch the race each year and subsequently take their money when my exacta (a bet on the first and second horses in their exact order of finish) comes through. If you do not believe this is important you can use the small side of your Boston shaker set but it is shameful and against tradition...and I love tradition.
Regardless, this style of drink does not originate from the porch of a beautiful Southern plantation on a hot early summer's day it actually (ready for this?) comes from the Persian gulab or Arab julab style of drinks. It is international and we have no claim to it...though we may have perfected it.
The Mint Julep
About a week out research and pick your horse and jockey. You can of course change these up until post time. ALWAYS bet on the jockey not the horse.
In a Silver Julep Cup:
A ton of lightly roughed up mint without stems
8-10 g of Caster Sugar (to taste)
60 ml high proof or Bonded Bourbon (I am talking Makers Cask Strength, Noah's Mill, or Bakers here. Get that proof up!)
Fill halfway with crushed ice. Jostle this around with a spoon and let it sit.
After the bottom starts to frost, top with more crushed ice and jostle again.
Form a small dome of ice and garnish with tons of mint.
Hold from the top and bottom so as not to touch the side of the silver cup.
Drink through a short metal straw when the cup has frosted entirely. Also make sure you are outdoors.
Note: Be careful. These sneak up quickly and the jockeys aren't even in their silks yet.
Note: Take your time making this cocktail. It is history and art. No need to rush at the start. That is the easiest way to end up without roses at the end of the race.
Mint Juleps for a Group
Before everyone arrives jot down horse, jockey, and silk colors on a board that will be visible to all. Also specify a minimum straight bet wager.
In a large punch bowl:
1 gallon (3.78 liters but I mean come on...we are talking about massive amounts of Bourbon and I surely don’t need any Kentucky Colonels rolling over in their graves because Bourbon never wanted to be measured with the Metric System anyways) of high proof or Bonded Bourbon
385 ml Simple Syrup
So much mint (Like holy cow I have never seen that much mint before in my life)
1 can of cored and cut pineapple rings (drink the juice separately or toss it out)
Stir with a ladle to incorporate ingredients and let sit. Do not add ice.
Leave julep cups, crushed ice, and mint for garnish sitting out.
Let guests fill up cups with ice and julep mix.
Drink through short straws and make sure all noses can touch the mint.
Note: This recipe can be doubled or tripled for the size of party.
Note: Men must wear slacks and a jacket if weather allows it. Woman should sport hats and gloves.
Note: Keep unsweet iced tea around to cut the julep after you have had a few.
Note: Make sure those pineapple rings get eaten. I wouldn't recommend more than one.
Note: Be smart. As the host of a day drinking party, your guests are in your hands. My dear friend and late night porch drinking mentor, Eric Farrell, has thrown a Kentucky Derby Party for years and everyone has stayed safe and they all show up the next year. Uber, Lyft, public transportation, walking, or even a sober horse are better choices than getting behind the wheel.
...and they're off!
Bar To Home
A simple translation from bar to home.