I lived in the South for many years and while I can’t brag about having been to the Kentucky Derby, I can say I’ve driven through that part of the country during our moves and it is amazingly beautiful. Wide, rolling expanses of green grass are accentuated with white fences that stretch for miles. You can imagine in the distance a scene I’ve only seen played out through the small screen; that array of genteel Southern folks, dressed as if stepping back in time and all congregated to watch a spectacular of speed, grace and beauty that I don’t believe is matched anywhere. I have always loved horses; seeing them run in the Derby is one of the most exhilarating experiences I know; I can only imagine how fabulous it must be to be there. I have the perfect hat, it’s wide flowing brim just waiting for that moment when the invitation comes!
In the Meantime…
In lieu of waiting for my horse to pass by, I’ve been invited often to Kentucky Derby parties. Which means food and drink and nothing is more quintessentially a Derby drink than the Mint Julep. So southern; so sweet; so good. To stay true to form, I used my Wild Turkey whiskey from Kentucky as a nod to the roots of this cocktail but I veered pretty far off the path after that. Mint Julep’s are good all by themselves but I’m not sure they are blog worthy…how many blogs do you need to tell you to mix sugar, bourbon and mint anyhow? So; I got clever (or so I think!) and decided to add not only a fruity touch but a fizzy one as well with the addition of some fresh blackberries and a wonderful Prosecco from Ogio Wines.
Did we love this? Big time. The addition of blackberries was so perfect; enough tartness to temper the sugar but not enough to change the overall composition of the drink. The Ogio Prosecco was just perfect; I enjoyed not only the bubbly but that one addition made the drink more festive and maybe a bit less ‘boozy’ and I liked it. A lot.
The Ogio Prosecco offers a delicate yet complex bouquet with fruity notes of peach and green apple. It is fresh and light on the palate with balanced acidity and a long, lingering finish. I found it both ideal on it’s own and the perfect compliment in this drink. The added combination of Prosecco and blackberries was very well received; both added a fresh and fruity flavor to this classic warm weather cocktail.
I struggled a bit deciding whether to post something today that would be fitting for just The Kentucky Derby or wondered if I should also offer up something for Cinco de Mayo on Sunday. You can see what won…but then I remembered that I put together a compilation of some great Cinco de Mayo dishes and cocktails last year that is still a great resource for those festivities. Whew!! As for this? I’ll have some ready tomorrow for the big race; you coming over?
Update: 2014 Kentucky Derby Cocktail is a Honey Peach Mint Julep; another winner!
Sparkling Blackberry Mint Julep
- Small ice cubes (I get mine from Sonic; they sell ice by the bag)
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 4 tablespoons mint leaves torn in half
- 2 Tbsp simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar brought to boil just enough to melt sugar; cooled)
- 3 ounces bourbon
- Prosecco or other sparkling wine
- Mint sprigs and blackberries for garnish
- Fill a julep or small rocks glass overflowing with ice cubes.
- In a shaker, muddle the blackberries, mint leaves and simple syrup.
- Add 1 cup of ice cubes and bourbon to the shaker and shake well. Strain the drink into the glass filling it 3/4 full.
- Finish filling the glass with the Prosecco, gently stir to combine.
- Gently press on the mint leaves for garnish to release their aroma before putting a bunch into each cocktail; finish with a blackberry and serve with a short straw.