Thankfully, it’s soon to be May at last, when jackets go unbuttoned, lilacs are in bloom and the Kentucky Derby is at hand. And what Derby party would be complete without a Mint Julep in hand? Oooh, the Mint Julep—the wicked mistress of the South. She’ll coddle you through and afternoon and then beat you into submission by nightfall. In New Hampshire, my neighbor Trudy’s annual Kentucky Derby parties are legendary and her Juleps are the best I’ve ever tasted. Word is, she was given the somewhat unorthodox recipe from a Kentucky gentleman back in her salad days as a waitress. Somehow, my Juleps are never as good as when Trudy makes them, but it’s sure fun trying. Apart from any legerdemain, this is what she does:
Make simple syrup by boiling one part sugar to two parts water; let cool. Fill a tall Collins glass with crushed ice. Alternate Maker's Mark (or your favorite Kentucky bourbon) and simple syrup in 1 oz portions, totaling 2 oz bourbon and 3 oz simple syrup. Top with a 1/2 oz floater of Myer's dark rum. Add a mint sprig and insert a straw to sip up the boozy goodness.
Happy Derby Day! Please ride responsibly.