Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Almost Julep Time in Tennessee — and Kentucky

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 8:03 AM

This post is about conspicuous consumption. Between the upcoming Kentucky Derby on May 3 and the Iroquois Steeplechase a week later, I'll wager that quite a few Nashvillians will be digging their most fabulous clothing out of the closet and preparing to consume mass quantities of bourbon, sugar and mint in the form of the ubiquitous mint julep cocktail.

Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, which is kind of like being the official water of the Pacific Ocean ... it's a big deal. In honor of their affiliation with the derby, they are again offering the "$1,000 Mint Julep" to well-heeled patrons to raise money to benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center. The Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep program has raised $384,000 for horse and humanitarian charities since its inception in 2006.

So what do you (well, more likely a Kardashian) get for a cool grand? A custom-engraved, gold-plated trophy cups will be filled with hand-crafted ingredients with a rose theme, including rosewater and muddled rose petals, and presented inside a box made from bourbon barrel staves and lined with Vineyard Vines fabric. The rose theme is actually quite appropriate, since the derby is know as "The Run for the Roses," and the word "julep" is derived from the Persian word "gulab," which means rosewater. In honor of the 89th derby, Woodford will only be offering 79 of these high-end $1,000 beauties plus 10 more at $2,000, which includes a gold-plated cup with a sterling silver medallion. (Y'know, in case you want to make Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari look like cheapskates.)

For the rest of us, Woodford's sister brand Old Forrester will be providing the kick in the standard $8 juleps that will be sold at Churchill Downs, and they sell a bunch of them. On average, derby patrons consume 127,000 juleps on race day requiring 2 tons of mint!

Even if you won't be heading north for Derby Day, you can re-create the experience at home for your own viewing party or at your Steeplechase tailgater. Woodford has provided the recipes for their $1,000 julep and several other variations that can jazz up your fete. Even more entertaining is the idea of setting up a julep bar for your guests to create their own versions of the classic cocktail. Set one of these up on the tailgate of your Steeplechase vehicle (no glass, please!), and you'll be the most popular spot in the Stirrup Club.

Read on for the recipes:

Woodford Reserve’s “Run for the Roses” Mint Julep

1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon
1½ teaspoons mint syrup (see recipe below)
3 dashes rose water
Candied rose petals (see recipe below)
Sprig of mint
Crushed ice

In a mint julep cup, muddle 3 candied rose petals. Add mint syrup and stir gently. Fill glass with crushed ice. Top ice with Woodford Reserve bourbon and rose water. Garnish with an edible rose petal and sprig of mint.

Mint syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup Woodford Reserve Mint Julep sugar

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat and stir gently for 5 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Chill, covered, for 8 to 10 hours.

Candied rose petals:
Edible rose petals
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1 cup Woodford Reserve Bourbon Smoked Sugar

In a food processor, add smoked sugar and process until superfine. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together water and egg white. Lay rose petals on a wire rack and use a brush to paint each one with egg wash. Use a sifter to sprinkle sugar over petals. Turn over petals and repeat. Do not shake off excess sugar. Let petals dry on rack for 24 hours. Store in air-tight container until ready to use.

Ginger Julep
1½ oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon
Juice of half a lime
1 medium piece candied ginger
¼ tsp. molasses
3 oz. lemon soda

Muddle ginger with all liquids except for the soda. Serve over ice in a julep glass and top with lemon soda. Garnish with a piece of ginger or a lime twist.

Woodford Berry Punch
1 ¼ cups Woodford Reserve bourbon
2 ½ cups cranberry juice
2 ½ oz orange juice
6 diced strawberries
10 basil leaves
6 pinches allspice/sugar blend

Muddle strawberries, basil, orange juice and allspice/sugar blend in bottom of a glass. Transfer to large pitcher, add bourbon, ice and top with cranberry juice. Stir well and serve in mason jars.

Basil Strawberry Julep
3 fresh basil leaves
2 diced strawberries
1 tbsp basil simple syrup
Ice (crushed)
2 tbsps Woodford Reserve bourbon

Add basil leaves, strawberries and simple syrup to rocks glass. Muddle. Add ice then top with bourbon. Garnish with fresh basil sprig or strawberry and serve.

Basil Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup basil leaves, 1 cup water and 1 cup of sugar in a small pot. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring often. Once sugar dissolves, remove from stove and cool. Strain to separate leaves from liquid into container and seal.

Mint Julep Bar:
A mint julep bar allows party hosts to be able to enjoy their party as much as the guests and for guests to be able to participate in the festivities. Set out all the ingredients needed to make a traditional mint julep as well as various juices, fruits and herbs for those who want to get creative.

Suggested Items:
• Woodford Reserve bourbon
• Fresh fruits in bowls (oranges, limes and various berries)
• Fresh fruit juices (orange, cranberry, pineapple)
• Fresh herbs in glasses
• Various bitters, cherries and sugars
• Mason jars or other glasses
• Muddler, spoon and straws


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