"And they're off!"-These three words launch the Run for the Roses--the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. And likely the only instant during all of Derby week when not one thoroughbred racing fan or Derby party fanatic is sipping the cocktail of choice, the Mint Julep.
As the Kentucky Derby's traditional libation, creating the Mint Julep is an event unto itself. Those elixirs served on the infield of Churchill Downs are a toxic, quick mix of Bourbon, syrup, and water; and as julep connoisseurs will inform you, not the "official" Kentucky Mint Julep. Concocting the authentic version is considered an art form, not horseplay. The festive brew demands tremendous preparation and precision. Purchasing, washing, and tearing mint leaves; boiling water and adding specific sugars; soaking and refrigerating the mint overnight; and, determining the appropriate Bourbon brand are a sampling of the elaborate undertaking required to perfect this spring spirit.
Serving a julep appears nearly as complicated as its creation. Snooty-toots profess that full appreciation of this refreshment can only be achieved if proper etiquette is followed: The ice must be crushed not shaved; the julep is served in a chilled, sterling silver cup; the cup is held by the rim so as not to disturb the frosty sides; and assuming a straw is used, it is short enough to smell the mint's "bloom" when slurping.
All this work just to have a "special" drink in hand for two minutes? We need a beer!