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Catstudio Kentucky Derby dish towel from High Street Fly. | Woodford Reserve julep cup from Woodford Reserve Gift Shop. | Kentucky Derby 143 Official Mint Julep Glass | Louisville Stoneware julep cups from Maker's Mark and Buffalo Trace Distilleries.
The mint julep is the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. It's also one of the most maligned and misunderstood. A julep can be a lovely and refreshing cocktail when you use good bourbon, a fresh simple syrup and just-picked mint sprigs.
The first step to a great julep party is variety. Set up tasting stations so your guests can sample juleps made from different bourbon expressions. It's a great way to determine how the drink works for your palate. Some folks swear a julep needs to be in the traditional silver cup, others want a traditional Derby Glass, and some of us love the feel of a Louisville Stoneware Julep Cup. (The Stoneware cups are my favorite because they keep your drink cold without the condensation of a metal cup!
Bar towels from Maker's Mark and Woodford Reserve Distilleries. Rose garland from Etsy seller thekindpilot.
You're bound to have some guests who don't want a julep -- there's always that Kentuckian -- so stock some bourbons and ryes that are good for sipping or for making other, less Derby-approved cocktails.
To learn more about the mint julep, visit the Kentucky Derby Book website, where you'll see a video of Woodford Reserve's Chief Entertainment Officer Tim Laird making the perfect mint julep and read more about the classic mint julep cocktail with Woodford Reserve Master Taster Elizabeth McCall.
The Kentucky Derby by Bill Doolittle is a wonderful companion to the Greatest Two Minutes in Horse Racing. The book's Digimarc technology allows you to experience live video of Derby races, Derby fashion, and traditions like the mint julep directly on your smartphone! You can buy the hardback coffee table book here, or you can download the eBook from Amazon or iTunes.
(This post was sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Book. All opinions are my own.)
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On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, marking the end of Prohibition. Led at its most fanatic fringes by temperance activists Garrard County, KY, native Carry Nation, the prohibition of sales and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages was intended to increase the nation's public health and morals. Of course, Prohibition merely drove alcohol production and procurement underground, often resulting in dangerous (not to mention unpalatable) concoctions. Here in Kentucky, we also suffered a major economic setback, as the bourbon industry was shuttered for a decade. (Read more about Kentucky and Prohibition here.)
Here in Louisville, we're always looking for a fun party, especially one that celebrates our native spirit. Here are some fun Repeal Day happenings in the Derby City this weekend:
- Louisville SWIG Food and Drink Tasting Affair tonight, 12/4 at the Seelbach: Join Louisville Magazine for the debut of their December issue, live music from Billy Goat Strut Revue, and tastes of food and drink from over 50 vendors. A portion of ticket sales benefits Court Appointed Special Advocates of the River Region.
- Repeal Day Open House tonight, 12/4 5-9 p.m. at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience: Tastings, small bites, door prizes, and a 1920s costume contest!
- Spirits of the Bluegrass: Prohibition in Kentucky exhibition at The Frazier Museum: open now!
- Repeal Day at The Silver Dollar: 5p.m. -close Saturday 12/5: Special cocktails with Old Forester, 1930s costume contest, photo booth, and more!
- Repeal Day at Bourbons Bistro: Saturday 12/5 at 6 p.m.25 cent cocktails and apps; Prohibition-era movies; costume contest.
- Proof on Main Repeal Day: Saturday 12/5 7 p.m-11p.m.. Cocktail specials, music, "Costumes are encouraged; mustaches are appreciated." In conjunction with 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen, Meta, Down One Bourbon Bar and Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar's Repeal Day Revel: a downtown exploration of restaurants and bars that celebrate Repeal Day with passport stamps at each location.
Happy Repeal Day, y'all! Here's to Kentucky's finest spirits!
You may also enjoy:
- The HerKentucky Guide to Speakeasy Louisville: The Hot Brown
- The HerKentucky Guide to Speakeasy Louisville: The Belle of Louisville
- The HerKentucky Guide to Speakeasy Louisville: The Evan Williams Experience
- The HerKentucky Guide to Speakeasy Louisville: The Seelbach
- A Conversation with Irrepressible Author Emily Bingham
- Happy Repeal Day!