LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: A bartender makes a mint julep prior to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Not to preempt Magnus's excellent post about recruiting (read it below) but it's Friday, and you all know what that means: a semi-occasional instruction from the site about what to drink. Congratulations to James Ross, the newest member of the Michigan Wolverines' latest recruiting class. Speaking of class, that's what we're all about here at Maize n Brew.
Today, though, I'm going to depart from the regular MnB tradition and discuss to you one of my favorite traditions: the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby. Tomorrow afternoon, for about two minutes, CBS or whoever will have a rather pent-up call for a horse race. It's THE horse race. Most of you know this. But it's not just a race. It's a time for people to get together and make a day out of two minutes of excitement. Women in sundresses and hats, and men in the classiest stuff they can find (or have their wives/girlfriends foist upon them. MnB is in favor of this.)
How is this relevant to you, dear readers? Quite simple. The mint julep.
It might be my favorite drink. I love beer, but I've been a bourbon guy ever since my first real job was working for a bourbon company. I'm biased, sure, but nothing beats a good bourbon, cold, on a warm summer's evening. No, it's not a tailgate drink or even a party drink. It's an old man drink if anything. But many can appreciate the taste of a good, solid Kentucky Bourbon.
Living abroad has complicated things a bit. Lots of people outside Kentucky have no idea that bourbon can ONLY come from Kentucky, and everything else, including JD, is merely whiskey. I love whiskey too. But there's something about a bourbon. Something complex and unique, that men drink in smoky, wood-paneled rooms. Something like this:
Start around the six minute mark for Robert Duvall talking about the mystique of the julep (Note: We at MnB do not support copyright infringement and the opinions in this movie are not ours). The bourbon type is important for some, not for others - I know Dave likes Sazerac Rye, which isn't technically bourbon, it's rye, but it's also fantastic. MM is the more affordable option, but it's still pricey. If you want a cheaper alternative, give Jim Beam Black or Beam White a shot. And if you've got tons of money from selling your college football gear, give Baker's or Booker's or Bulleit or Knob Creek a try. You won't be disappointed. Anyway, there's no perfect way to enjoy a mint julep, but here's my favorite way, using my favorite bourbon, Maker's Mark Kentucky Bourbon.
Grind a few mint leaves on ice cubes in a glass - probably 4-6 cubes is perfect. Fresh mint leaves are best - especially if you soak them in a bit of water first. Dust the ice with sugar, very lightly. Add a few fingers of bourbon, and the mint water if you want a weaker drink, and sprinkle more sugar in to taste if you wish. Then go watch some horses race. If you want the Official SB Nation Bourbon Recipe, it's here - give it a shot, I'll try it tonight and report back. Enjoy this weekend, and a nice, quiet spring Saturday on a porch with a mint julep. Be sure to check out And Down the Stretch They Come, an excellent SB Nation horse racing blog. And share your julep recipes below!
Until next time, Cheers, Michigan Faithful! I promise a return to brews is forthcoming.