I am a horse fanatic, I have been since I was a kid. So much so, I'd fall asleep with my entire plastic horse collection in my bed. I get excited about the Derby even though I don't follow horse racing. I've only been once but it was quite the experience... no other sporting event can compare. The hats, the pretty women, the dashing guys, the total Southern charm, the majesty of the horses, and of course, the Kentucky bourbon and the Mint Juleps! I always crack up because the Mint Julep is THE drink associated with the South more than any other. When I meet people from other countries and they find out I'm from Alabama, they tell me their impression is that we all sit around on the porch, sipping Mint Juleps..... So in tribute to the horses and most magnificent race in sports, here's a classic Mint Julep recipe my way, just in time for Derby Day.
CLASSIC MINT JULEP
To begin, make a simple syrup infused with mint. This will really bring a wonderful mint flavor to the cocktail and you can also use it to sweeten tea. For the simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water. For 6 drinks, I am using 1 cup each sugar and water. Bring it to a boil, and turn off the heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add 15-20 fresh mint leaves. Stir. Allow the syrup to cool completely. Strain and pour into a canning jar, secure the lid, and chill. This will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
For one cocktail:
3 fresh mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
3 tablespoons mint syrup (depending on how sweet you like it, I like 3)
1 1/2 ounces Kentucky bourbon (I like Four Roses bourbon)
Powdered sugar for garnish, if desired
Chill your glasses prior to serving. A traditional silver mint julep cup makes this cocktail so frosty and delicious. Add the syrup and mint leaves to a pitcher or shaker. Use a wooden spoon to muddle (not tear) the mint into the syrup to release the oil. Add the bourbon. Fill the cup with crushed ice and strain the bourbon over the ice, almost like a snow cone. Add a straw, a mint sprig, and a dusting of powdered sugar over the top, if you like. Serve immediately.