1. A Classic Mint Julep for Derby Day

    download (2)If you feel like celebrating the first of May, think about a Derby Day party. Even people who never get closer to a horse than a carousel are mad about the Kentucky Derby. I think it’s the hats and the tradition that are the key to its appeal. After all, we tune into Royal weddings by the millions for the pageantry. And while the Kentucky Derby isn’t Ascot with its Royal Enclosure, it is as close as we get it on this side of pond.  So if the idea of Derby Day appeals to you, break out the hats, pretty sundresses, and seersucker suits, and mix up the mint juleps.

    Classic Mint Julep:

    1½ parts Maker’s Mark or any good bourbon. You don’t need special aged or exotic bourbon in a julep, but use a good, quality brand.

    Fresh mint (Rinse the leaves really well as they can be gritty. I like to use my salad spinner.) Pick out the pretty top leaves to garnish each glass. You need several bunches for a batch of juleps.)

    1 to 2 tablespoons simple syrup muddled with mint. Sweetness is a matter of taste so make a drink in advance of your party and taste it.

    Splash of spring water or filtered water. (I like to slightly carbonate the water with my Penguin SodaStream, but this is a personal taste. Do not add club soda as the taste is different.)

    Muddle simple syrup with mint in the bottom of the cocktail glass to bruise the leaves.

    Add Bourbon and crushed ice and water and stir.

    Garnish with pretty mint leaves.

    Tip: The traditional glass is a tall silver julep cup that you may order, or frost tall cocktail glasses in your freezer.

    If you are serving four to six people or more, consider making the juleps in a heavy bottom glass pitcher or shaker, and then pour into individual frosted, ice-filled glasses.