Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Talk Derby to Me

If the Kentucky Derby was just about "the most exciting two minutes in sports," the whole event would be over before you could drink a mint julep! But since, thankfully, the biggest day in horse racing, which is taking place THIS Saturday, is equal parts sporting event and social event, you need a few essentials to participate properly. 

Men, don some seersucker, and ladies, grab a hat. Next get together with a group of friends and drink a bunch of these. 

Well, at least drink one! I hear it's bad luck for the horses if you don't. OK, I just made that up, but you'd be the equivalent of the Grinch if you didn't. This is a great recipe because you can make a whole pitcher the day before, and won't have to play bartender during the spectacle. Instead you can spend more time picking the winning horse. With all the variables in the race (weather, jockey, post position, distance, etc.), it could be any horse's game. But what is certain is when you pick a horse, you have to root for him all the way! You need to be glued to watching the race, your eyes becoming a spot camera of the horse you picked to win. All the hopes and dreams of the owners, trainers, handlers and jockeys are on winning this life-altering race. The preparations for the past two years are gone in two minutes. And you either celebrate or watch in disbelief. And you'll want that mint julep (or several) either way.

I had the good fortune of attending "America's Race" last year. I must say, it lives up to the massive reputation as being one of the most exciting sporting events, as well as one of the most unique things I've ever done. It's a bucket list item for sure. It's a fabulous mix of nostalgia and pageantry. It was great seeing all the ladies' hats, the spires of Churchill Downs, hearing "My Old Kentucky" song playing, and of course enjoying a few mint juleps. 

But the real fun comes in placing wagers on races and of course watching the Race to the Roses. It is a pure adrenaline rush. For a thrilling two minutes, everyone, regardless of race, income, or age, is in the race together. 

It's the uncertainty, the drama, the action that adds to the mystique and attraction that makes the Derby the race to watch. This picture above is of long-shot Animal Kingdom pulling ahead in the final seconds to win. Everyone went ballistic, especially those who placed a bet on a horse with 21-1 odds. 

Post time for the 138th annual event is 6:24 pm ET. Don't be late! 

Pitcher o' Mint Juleps

One handle of Maker's Mark (1.75 liters)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup water
25 mint leaves
10 lbs crushed ice
20 additional mint springs for garnish

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine mint leaves, sugar and water. Stir occassionally. The mint leaves will darken and wilt, which is normal. 
2. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove pan from the heat, cover pan with a lid and allow the mint to steep for 20 minutes. 
3. Strain out the wilted leaves and pour syrup into a large pitcher. 
4. Pour the handle of bourbon into the same pitcher and stir to mix. Place pitcher in the refrigerator and allow flavors to meld together overnight. 
5. When ready to serve, fill a cup to the rim with crushed ice. Stir pitcher and pour into the glass. Garnish with a spring of mint. 


  1. I know Chris will enjoy this post even if he doesn't get to join us for the race.

  2. ooh, this looks like so much fun. I just wrote it down on my list of "things I must do." Also, can't remember the last time I had a Mint Julep. Yum!!