Pick a bourbon (or a rye) and whip up a...

Pick a bourbon (or a rye) and whip up a mint julep for the 143rd Kentucky Derby. Credit: Dreamstime

The 145th Kentucky Derby will be run on Saturday. You can get a head start on the festivities with your own homemade mint julep.

This refreshing cocktail is closely associated with the run for the roses. And nothing suits the first leg of the Triple Crown than some good bourbon.

The julep likely has been around since the 1600s. The story goes that the sweet stuff originated as something to make medicines taste better. The first actual record of it apparently came in 1803, from a tutor on Southern plantations.

Formal julepeers serve the drink in a silver cup, or julep tin. Basically, it works for a cold beverage. But a tumbler, a highball, or even a wineglass won’t cause any significant harm.

As for the bourbon of choice, consider Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve. Mint juleps also are made with rye, if you’re not a bourbon fan.

The following recipe for a mint julep is adapted from Salvatore Calabrese’s “Classic Cocktails” (Sterling Epicure, latest edition 2015).

And they’re off . . .

1. Place 4 or 5 mint leaves in a julep cup or glass.

2. Add 1 teaspoon superfine sugar and 1 tablespoon cold water.

3. Crush the mint with the back of a spoon until the sugar is dissolved and the scent of the mint is released.

4. Add 2 ounces of bourbon.

5. Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir.

6. Garnish with a sprig of mint on the rim of the glass

7. Add a straw or a stirrer and serve

Your odds for success are better than either Gormley’s or Girvin’s, which is to say 15-1 and 12-1.

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