02 May 2008

A Different Mint Julep


It’s time to get real about the first Saturday in May. The forecast suggests the weather may clear up a bit but, if it does continue as it has all week, I need a backup plan. Derby Day in these parts is at least as likely to be cool and rainy as it is to be a promising day to sit on the veranda with a Mint Julep.

Forget what I said last month when I was sipping my official yearly Mint Julep in some unseasonably warm spring weather. Amaretto is out. There is none in the cupboard and I’m not buying more. Bourbon, a uniquely Kentucky bred whiskey, is called for on Derby Day.

I’ll pass on the coin silver julep cup. I don’t want to hold something frosty and cold, nor do I want to sit outside when it is rainy, chilly and/or threatening hail. Yet I need a little something that speaks of horse racing and/or southern tradition. Lucky for me I picked up some finds at Hadley Pottery when I was in Louisville a few years ago. Thick heat retentive mugs are great for a steaming beverage when I’m chilled to the bone (or just wishing for warmer sunnier weather.)

Forget the crushed or chipped ice. I can still see the snow pack gracing the peak of Mt. Hood. It’s a skier’s paradise this spring. For that matter, there is still snow in the hills outside my window. That is icy enough. Give me something warm.

Mint? Well it is not so cold or wet that the mint hasn’t come up or that I can’t go around to the side of the house and pick some. Yes, mint is tenacious and tolerant and invigorating. It is a beacon of good humor and a fine example of blooming where you’re planted. Its attributes recommend it highly to me at this time of the year in this place. Mint is in.

I’m keeping the sugar too. I might as well go ahead with the whole syrup thing. I can use a little sweetness in my outlook just now.

So here goes, a new drink to commemorate the Kentucky Derby, named after a great Kentucky Derby champion and Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew


Seattle Slew Brew

1. Rub the rim of a coffee mug with a fresh mint leaf. Discard the leaf.

2. Put one or two teaspoons of Mint Julep Syrup in the bottom of a mug.

3. Fill the mug three-quarters full of strong hot dark roasted coffee.

4. Add about 1 ounce of good quality bourbon whiskey (Maker's Mark is a good choice).

5. Pour a bit of heavy cream over the back of a spoon onto the top of the coffee or drop a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top.

Garnish with a mint leaf if desired.

Happy Derby Day!

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