Friday, May 4, 2012

Derby Day at our house

Saturday is Derby Day... is anyone else excited?  In our house, we've always gathered around the TV on Derby Day, winners picked, mock bets placed to see the likes of Barbaro, Sunday Silence, Winning Colors and Cigar run the 'fastest two minutes in sports.'


You've got to have a mint julep in honor of The Derby!

 Each year almost 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs over the two day period between the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, virtually all of them in specially made Kentucky Derby collectible glasses.

Here is Paula Deans recipe:


  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar


To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.
To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.
To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.
Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it's right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to "marry" the flavors.
To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.
When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

So here are our Derby contenders - Thomas (quite the squirt but definitely the quicker of the two) and Willie (tall, dark and handsome but can't be bothered to pick up the pace). Willie was actually bred to race, born from winning bloodlines on both lines, but never quite could get his long legs to work together on the track.  Besides, pasture life seems to suit him much better these days :)

While our steeds stand idle, waiting to be called up to the big leagues (NOT) we are happy with life here in Virginia, watching in the comforts of our living room.   Although we all hope to make it to Churchill Downs for a Derby one day ... hats, gloves, juleps, the whole nine!  

Have you been?  I'd love to hear your experience!



  1. I'm a Kentucky girl but I haven't been to the Derby yet either. Looking forward to the race (and the mint juleps). Your horses are beautiful (race horses or not!) :) Have a great weekend!

  2. I have a thing for horses and races. I love the Derby and a good steeplechase always excites me too.

  3. You can bet a race that I will be sipping on my mint julep!!
    May the best horse win.
    Happy Friday.

  4. thanks for the fun mix!! I remember going to the derby many yrs ago when we first got married...what a blast it was! fun everywhere. your horses are so beautiful...I would pet them all day!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.
    have a great weekend!

  5. Hi Nancy and Bethany - Thomas and Willie are so handsome and regal!! I'd be blogging about them everyday!! Sometimes I do wish we lived outside the city....would love to have a small farm with horses, bunch of dogs, chickens, etc. I'd love to meet your boys one day. Do post more about them, please! Have a wonderful weekend....lots of mint juleps 4 all!! ;-)

  6. How fun! I got to go to the Derby once and sit in the stands with all the ladies wearing their gorgeous hats. My grandmother had a Derby party each year well into her 90s and now that she's in a nursing home, I've inherited her mint julep cups. I need to throw a party in her honor, but each year it sneaks up on me! Case in point. Your blog is the first hint I've had that it is this weekend. Enjoy your mint juleps. Maybe I'll make one for fun and toast you all from the West Coast!

  7. Oh what fun! I may have told you this before but your bay horse (Willie?) looks just like a mare I owned years ago. A Bold Ruler descendant. She was a typical mare - very good or very bad. I loved her - her name was Strut. Makes me miss the horses!

  8. Hello ladies,
    This looks like such fun- and the mint julep is definitely one to try when it warms up over here.
    Your horses look like they have very happy lives now.
    Have so enjoyed reading your posts.
    Bethany, thank you again for your lovely and encouraging comments. One aspect of blogging that I hadn't accounted for is the 'community' and the lovely people I've met.
    Hope you both have a lovely weekend.

  9. What gorgeous horses! Have a wonderful time, ladies! I've never been or even had a mint julep, not too popular in CO, but we may watch! :)


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