With the Kentucky Derby pushed back to September 5th this year – the first time the race has been moved since 1945 – I thought it was time to get creative with this late-spring staple, adding a mild autumnal twist to prepare for the colder evenings to come. They’re coming, right? Usually my seasonal take on the Mint Julep involves the first of the summer blueberries, some late season flowering watercress, and the wildly-fragrant young chocolate mint in my garden. For this riff on a classic, I’m playing some fall spices off the buttery, caramel-like goodness of Madeira, mixed with maple syrup, meant to conjure a crisp fall morning of waffles and coffee. Making a julep can seem like an overwhelming proposition for the home bartender but think of this as an elaborately presented, luxurious old fashioned. Just don’t forget the crushed ice.
2 oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
Teaspoon maple syrup
Teaspoon Rainwater Madeira
2 Dashes Angostura
8 Fresh Mint Leaves
Dash of cinnamon
3 sprigs of fresh mint and a marigold flower, reserved for garnish
*In a mixing glass, add the mint leaves, bitters, and maple syrup and stir ingredients together, taking care to lightly muddle the mint leaves together with the bitters and syrup with the back of your spoon. Fill the mixing glass with ice and add the bourbon and madeira and stir briskly for 15 seconds. Let the mixture rest while you set up the julep cup. In a julep cup (or whatever you’re drinking this mighty concoction out of), fill halfway with crushed ice, add the dash of cinnamon, then add more ice to fill the cup three quarters of the way full. Strain the drink over the crushed ice, and garnish with the three sprigs of mint, brushing the mint over the outsides of the cup and over the top of the drink. Fill with more crushed ice and a marigold flower, if you dare.