There is a tradition at my house. On Derby Day, we eat fried chicken and drink Mint Juleps.

To be clear, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'm not even from Louisville. Maybe its because my brother Nick is a chef there and The Derby is a pretty significant event in his world. More likely, its because it is associated with a pretty good (and rather unusual) drink.

So on Derby Day, we eat fried chicken and drink Mint Juleps.

OK... its a cliche. I'm fine with that. This year's batch is in the fridge mellowing right now. I actually have a pot of mint on the patio (not in the garden - it spreads like nothing else) that was selected specifically for its julep-compatible flavors - "Kentucky Colonel".

I'm writing today to share my recipe. I'm assuming that, like me, many of you out in barista-land are home mixologists as well. And this drink recipe rocks. It is from a five-year-old episode of Food Network's "Cooking Live" with Sara Moulton. I guess it's Bill Samuel IV's... he's the guy who's initials are molded into the Maker's Mark bottle. Guy knows his bourbon drinks, right?

I usually make half a recipe, cause I like other bourbon drinks too and the full recipe takes a whole bottle. It uses a home-made mint extract, so it is a little non-traditional. But it is smooth, and minty, and tasty. Too tasty...

Here it is, more or less as printed. Enjoy it on Saturday!

The Perfect Mint Julep

Recipe courtesy Bill Samuels

4 cups bourbon (I like Makers for this. b)
2 bunches fresh spearmint
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
Powdered sugar

Make the mint extract:
Place about 40 mint leaves in a small bowl and cover with 3 oz of bourbon. Allow leaves to soak 15 minutes, then gather and wring out in a piece of paper towel back into the bowl (I prefer to smash the bourbon out of them in a small wire strainer, though I suppose an unbleached Melitta or Filtropa paper filter would work... or perhaps an aeropress?). Return the bruised mass back to the bourbon in the bowl and repeat the steep-mash process a few times.

Make the simple syrup:
1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Boil, cool, blah blah blah.

Mix the drink:
Dump the rest of the bourbon (3-1/2 cups) into a bowl or measuring cup. Add 1 cup simple syrup. Add mint extract to taste... about 3 Tbsp, but you may not use it all (I always use it all. I like 'em minty and hate to waste bourbon. I guess you could always add the rest to a favorite customer's mocha tomorrow?) Pour finished mix into an empty bottle and stash in the fridge for at least 24 hours to mellow.

To serve:
Fill each glass half full with crushed ice. Add a mint sprig, then pack full with ice. Put glasses in the freezer until they are good and frosty. Fill with the mix and enjoy.

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