With the Kentucky Derby only two days off, it's high time you thought about supplies.
Have you laid in enough bourbon to meet demand? Old Forester, my bourbon ordinaire, will do very well, and Maker's Mark is excellent. If you're flush, or expect to be so after the race, go for small batch.*
Crucially, have you been out to the back yard to see whether this year's late, cold spring and Noachian rains have delayed the growth of the mint you will need for juleps?
Once you have ascertained that you have the essentials, have a look at my annual reminder on constructing a proper mint julep:
Traditionalists use silver cups. Among us plebs, a good squat glass with a solid bottom will do nicely.
Harvest your mint, rinse it, and pat it dry with paper towels. Put about a teaspoon of sugar in a glass and mix it with just enough water to dissolve it. Then add a few mint leaves and muddle them thoroughly. If your equipment lacks a muddler, the handle of a crab mallet will do the job.
The ice is important. It should be cracked ice. Crushed ice will melt quickly, yielding a weak and watery julep. Ice cubes will not produce the correct balance. Take some ice cubes, put them in a plastic bag and wrap it in a kitchen towel, and wale away at it with a rolling pin.
Fill the glass with cracked ice and pour bourbon over it until the ice is covered. Garnish with a mint leaf. Sip. Reflect that life is sweet and good as you give thanks to the Baptist clergy for their two great contributions to Western civilization: the separation of church and state, and bourbon whiskey.
One final reminder: When the band plays “My Old Kentucky Home,” shut your mouth and stand respectfully.
Then you can do as you like.
*On no account use any of that ersatz bourbon from Tennessee or from any location other than the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun