MINT JULEP: THE OFFICIAL COCKTAIL OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY & OUR WEDDING

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You know what’s hard to believe? In one week, George and I will have been officially married for one year. I guess it’s really not that hard to believe, considering we’ve been together for what will be nine years later in May. We got married on the first Saturday in May last year, which also happened to be the day of the Kentucky Derby. We chose it purposefully. I wanted a May wedding (nice weather, my favorite flowers, blah blah blah) and every other weekend in May is something else. The second weekend is Mother’s Day. Didn’t want to overlap that. My birthday falls on the 19th. Didn’t want to overlap that. Then you have Memorial Day somewhere in there, so the first weekend + the Derby was perfect. It works out well because we love the Derby anyway. Neither of us are horse people, but a fancy fussy sporting event with its very own designated drink? Hells yes! Let’s embrace it and have some Derby-tastic fun at this thing, amiright? So we did. We projected “the fastest two minutes in sports” just as our reception officially started (we didn’t want to miss the race just because we tied the knot!), and our wedding toast—instead of bubbly—was a mint julep.

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In honor of the Derby next week (and our 1st anniversary as a couple of “Marrieds”), we’re going to clink glasses and cheers with a Mint Julep today. That way you have a full week to practice your muddling so you’re ready for Saturday! I warn you now—buy your mint in advance. If you wait until Saturday the grocery stores will be out of stock. Trust me, I speak from experience!! The drink below makes one cocktail, but it’s an easy one to multiply. We also suggest you make a mint simple syrup, but it will still be delicious if you use regular simple syrup instead.

Oh yeah, and those snazzy personalized wooden swizzle sticks? Those are from my best friend and maid of honor. She took our wedding logo I created for our invitations, and had them made for my bridal shower. Such a fabulous touch, don’t you think?

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::: MINT JULEP :::
Makes 1 drink

• 6-8 mint leaves
• 1-2 extra mint leaves for garnish
• 1 tsp white sugar
• 2 tsp mint simple syrup (recipe follows)
• 2 oz whiskey or bourbon
• 3 oz club soda
• crushed ice

Muddle mint leaves, sugar, and syrup in cocktail glass. Top with crushed ice. Add whiskey and top with club soda. Garnish with mint leaves.

::: Mint Simple Syrup ::::
Adapted from Martha Stewart

• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup water
• 1 bunch of fresh mint (4 oz or more)

In medium sauce pan, combine water, sugar, and mint leaves. Stir often and dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking for 5 minutes after sugar is dissolved. Let the leaves steep for 15-20 minutes, then strain leaves from syrup. Make sure to compress the leaves to strain them well! I have found the best way to keep simple syrup is in a mason jar in the refrigerator.

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