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Sunday, April 04, 2004

For shame, for shame...

I enjoy the occassional sampling of fine spirits, especially good Kentucky Bourbon and Tennessee sippin' whiskey, the latter often confused with the former. On May first a singular event will occur that still retains some of the better traditions of the South: the Kentucky Derby. The Derby, known as the most watched two minutes in the world, has been a long-time excuse in the South for big time parties that include BBQ, yard bowling, hand-crafted beers, machine-crafted beers, and, yes, the mint julep. There are many different kinds of juleps, but the Mint Julep is perhaps most often associated with the Derby, along with big hats, singing My Old Kentucky Home, and losing two bucks on the favorite.

I am not from Kentucky and have not been to the Derby in person. Yet, having been raised in the South, like many I associate one Saturday in early May with the event and all that it entails.

This is why I just about fell out of my chair when I learned that Early Times Bourbon is sponsoring the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep. First, it is an outrage that the folks at Churchill Downs would sell the name of a drink. Second, for those not in the know, using Early Times in a Mint Julep is the equivalent of...well, I don't know what exactly, but it is bad. Consider eating at a five star restaurant and insisting that Cookie doesn't know a spear of asparagus from his ear and that you are going to pour Ketchup all over his masterpiece.

The mint julep has a revered place amongst Southern drinks and should not be trifled with lightly, especially the main ingredient.

Here is CADPI's mint julep:
Mint leaves (no stems) in bottom of 8-10oz tumbler - crushed with wooden spoon or ice mallet.
Fill tumbler with crushed ice.
One (or more?) ounces of Maker's Mark or Knob Creek - at the very worst Kentucky Gentleman
Top off with simple syrup (comprised of 2:2 cups of sugar and water brought to boil and then chilled)
Extra sprigs of mint for aroma
A good chair.

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