*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in this week’s Dig. Please note: the Dig’s edition was edited by FakeAPStylebook to promote ROFLCon, a festival celebrating all things Internet…this one is not
by Pink Lady
Thousands will descend on Churchill Downs this weekend for the 136th Kentucky Derby. If there was ever a time to don a big hat and languidly sip a cocktail while pretending to be Southern, it’s this Saturday, in anticipation of “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” And your drink should be a mint julep.
The mint julep’s now a staple of Derby Day drinking, but from the turn of the 19th century through the Civil War, it was a staple of everyday drinking. The beverage has agrarian roots, but it fit in at fancy city bars in the early 20th century.
The mint julep was originally built with brandy, but during its heyday, you’d find everything from the gin julep described in Jerry Thomas’ books (made with “Hollands,” or Genever), to the “prescription” Julep, which blends cognac and rye. It’s replete with idiosyncratic nuance, so the nuts and bolts of construction remain a point of regional and bartenderly pride.
“Julep” originally meant “medicinal,” but “after centuries of usage as a term connoting medicine,” writes David Wondrich in Imbibe!, “somehow, in America ‘julep’ morphed into a word for something you drank for fun.” Mint juleps on Derby Day are fun indeed. According to the Kentucky Derby website, almost 120,000 fuel the weekend, requiring “1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.”
To represent Derby Nation, check out Drink’s “Run for the Roses Party” this Saturday. Enjoy three special cocktails and Southern treats, while listening to a live broadcast of the race. They’re awarding prizes for best hat and encourage derby-appropriate attire.
[Drink, 348 Congress St., Boston. 617.695.1806. 3pm-6pm/$45. drinkfortpoint.com]
CLASSIC MINT JULEP
2 sprigs of mint
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Pour simple syrup into a glass. Gently muddle one sprig of mint into the syrup, then remove mint.
Fill glass with crushed ice. Add bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, stir.
Cheers! [Italicized when referring to the popular 1980s television program.—Ed.]
CHECK OUT PINK LADY’S VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE A CLASSIC MINT JULEP AT HOME ON HOW2HEROES. how2heroes.com/videos/beverages/mint-julep