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  • My Mint Julep

    As I type, it's 1am, and I'm propped up in bed in my NYC hotel, stuffed full of greasy, New York-style pizza and cheesecake.  Not my typical Oaks night!!  Still, I can't help but think that tomorrow (or today, if you're an early-Derby-eve-party-pooper-outer) is the Kentucky Derby!  My favorite day of the year, every year, and because I'm missing the live races for the first time since I was a teenager, I can't help that my heart is at home, dreaming of new hats, fast horses, and strong beverages.

    Still, as I mentioned Monday, a real mint julep is not my cup of tea.  I prefer not to have crushed mint floating around in Bourbon-flavored sugar water... Instead, I think I've perfected the julep game by branching off of the Carpetbagger Julep from the now closed Louisville eatery, the St. Charles Exchange.  

    In a julep cup (glass just will not do), rub a stem of mint around the interior, bruising the leaves so that the oil makes an appearance, and the cup smells like fresh mint when you take a whiff of the inside.  

    Prop up a fresh mint stem or two in the cup, along with a sturdy straw (I love these from Crate and Barrel, or these fun striped options), and pack full of nugget ice.

    In a shaker, combine an ounce of Apple Brandy (I just love the version from Huber's Orchard in Indiana), an ounce of good rye (I use Rittenhouse), and a half ounce of simple syrup.  Shake until cold, and pour into your julep cup, piling more nugget ice on top for good measure and good looks, and enjoy!

    Happy Derby, friends! My money is on Thunder Snow and J. Boys Echo.  When the track is sloppy, I always bet the long shots...  Go, baby, go!

    ** photos by Kyle Leuken **