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Today: A distant cousin of the mint Julep, for Derby season and well beyond.
Twelve hours and 4 minutes. That’s how long it takes to drive from my tiny Brooklyn apartment to Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held every first Saturday in May. An hour longer, maybe, if I stop to get a hat.
It’s got to be a breezier place than where I am: One with slightly retro cheese dips and rolling hills covered with flowing, floral skirts and sled-sized hat brims. There have to be troughs of slushy whiskey cocktails because even though I’ve never been, I know at least this much. There are ponies, lots of them. I would be happy there.
So while I work on figuring out how I’ll get to Kentucky, (Google reports a 250 hour walk, so that’s out, but I hold out hope for workable bike paths), I’m making a batch of whiskey smashes—a diligent little bridge of a cocktail to get me through searching for routes, and then car rentals, and then car rental rates, the latter of which will probably cause me to make a second batch.
If you can’t get on the G train to come commiserate in real time, here’s how you can join me: Muddle a little mint and a little lemon in a shaker, then add a barspoon or so each of honey and peach jam. (I like to think of this last part as how we northerners dip our toes into southern hospitality.) In goes the booze, and then you shake, hard. Imagine you’re racing to the finish line! Because you are.
Dump all of this over a girthy tumbler full of crushed ice, and you’ll end up with a cocktail a bit like a Julep but not one that’s posing. It’s its own cocktail, warm and a only an inch sweet, and it will fuel not only your Derby watching or your subsequent late-spring sunbathing—it will also serve as a bartering tool. As in: Got a car? I make a mean smash.
1 1/2 ounces Bulleit bourbon
1 heaping barspoon peach jam
1 barspoon honey
1 fat lemon wedge
4 to 6 mint leaves
Photo by James Ransom
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