Doing a Derby Party this weekend? Get out your widest hat, buy your fresh spearmint, shine your silver julep cups, and learn the words to My Old Kentucky Home, by Stephen Foster. (These are the modern lyrics sung at the Derby today.)
“The sun shines bright in My Old Kentucky home,
‘Tis summer, and people are gay;
The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor
All merry, all happy and bright;
By ‘n’ by hard times comes a knocking at the door
Then My Old Kentucky Home, good night!
Weep no more my lady
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song
For My Old Kentucky Home
For My Old Kentucky Home, far away.”
Making a mint julep
Just like good food, a really delicious drink is only as good as its ingredients. For a mint julep, that includes the fresh mint – a must – clean shaved ice, and fine Kentucky bourbon, generously poured. Long ago it was served in silver mint julep cups, but a tall glass (collectors look for *Official mint julep glasses of the Kentucky Derby with lists of winners on them) will do.
Classic Mint Julep Recipe
6 to 8 sprigs of fresh mint, divided
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 ounces Kentucky bourbon
Put washed mint in bottom of glass or cup. Sprinkle sugar over mint. Pour a teaspoon of bourbon over the sugar and using a pestle, muddle the mixture, bruising the mint well to release its flavors. Let stand 2 minutes or longer. Fill glass with shaved ice and add remainder of bourbon. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.
For a party, make Mint Juleps for a Party. The recipe is from our own Palm Beacher, Lilly Pulitzer. It’s in *her party book, Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Entertaining.
Mint Juleps for a Party
(Begin at least 6 hours ahead.)
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 bunch mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
3 cups good Kentucky bourbon, or more to taste
Prepare simple syrup ahead of time: In a heavy saucepan, stir together sugar and water and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Put mint in a bowl and bruise with muddler. Pour syrup over all. Allow to cool; cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Use a slotted spoon to remove mint leaves from syrup and discard. Pour syrup into a tall pitcher; cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, set out glasses, syrup, bourbon and shaved ice. Put remaining mint leaves in a glass of water to keep them fresh. Allow guests to make their own juleps (print out directions if desired). (If tending bar, make juleps by filling glasses with shaved ice, add 2 to 3 ounces bourbon, and 2 tablespoons mint-infused syrup. Add mint leaves and stir well. Garnish with a small mint sprig.
Makes 12 servings. Double the recipe for a bigger party or heftier drinkers.
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