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Mint Juleps Aren’t Just for Derby Day

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Derby day calls for mint juleps.

Shortly after I moved into my home, I planted a single mint plant next to the fence. It has since grown into a patch at least 10 feet by 4 feet and is now threatening to surround the roses and come into the rest of the yard.

It’s a good thing, because I love mint.

It’s great to make tea with, to add to green peas and other vegetables, or just to snip so it perfumes the air. But, in my humble opinion, mint is best when served in a julep, the classic cocktail that all of us born in Kentucky know is served on derby day.

The Run for the Roses, as the great race is also called, wouldn’t be the same without this sweet Southern confection. And the following recipe comes from “Cordon Bluegrass,” the cookbook from the Junior League of Louisville, Ky.

So, no matter who wins the race, you’ll be a winner if you serve these. And you’ll keep serving them for as long as the mint lasts.

The Mint Julep

Mint leaves
5-inch silver mint julep cup
Shaved ice
Straw, cut  1/2-inch above the top of the serving glass
Powdered sugar
Mint spring

Prepare  a simple syrup by boiling together 2 parts sugar to 1 part water for 5 minutes.

Prepare a bourbon-mint extract, made by piling mint leaves in a clean white handkerchief, gathering the ends around mint and dipping the leaf end in a small bowl of 3 to 4 ounces of bourbon  and wringing it into the bourbon. Mix the extract, bit by bit,  with the syrup until the first “ping” of bitterness is reached (from the mint, not the bourbon).

Prepare mint julep mix by combining 1 part syrup with 6 1/2 parts bourbon.

Store mint julep mix in glass bottles in refrigerator. (Keeps forever!)

Pack julep cup (at Churchill Downs, chilled souvenir Collins glasses are used) with shaved ice. Pour in 2 1/2-3 ounces of chilled julep mix.

Add straw, a tiny bit of powdered sugar and mint sprig.

From “Cordon Bluegrass” from the Louisville, Ky., Junior League

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