Derby Day or Cinco de Mayo??
HighLife Productions April 24, 2019
Next week the perfect storm. Whether you are from the south or the way south (Mexico) Derby Day and Cinco De Mayo back-to-back. The Mint Julep or the Margarita? Pick your horse and place your bets. No matted which side of the bar you are on these classic cocktails have stood the test of time for a reason.
THE MINT JULEP (MAY 4th)
The classic Mint Julep looks a little like this… beaded silver cup, crushed ice, sprig of mint and the bourbon…. Ahhh, can you hear the horses getting ready. Maybe its the excitement of the race or the festivities of the hats (oh derby hats) but a lot of ceremony surrounds one drink. The julep first got its start as a medicinal concoction used to settle the stomach. As a cocktail, it blossomed in the American South in the late 1700s, with a decidedly elite air, because not everyone had access to ice nor the silver or pewter cup in which the drink is served. Known as the unofficial drink of the South, the Mint Julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938. Nearly 120,000 Mint Juleps have been sold at the race every year since. That’s a lot of silver cups (which people at the race used to steal, so now they sell them instead).
So if on Saturday, you are tuning in to watch the race, enjoy Derby Day with friends be sure to have the iconic, perennial, best in breed Mint Juleps on hand for if your event/party does that you will always be sure to win, place, or show!
THE HIGHLIFE MINT JULEP
8 mint leaves + 1 mint sprig for garnish
1/4 ounce simple syrup (Best made ahead of time)
2 ounces bourbon, such as Rebel Yell or Ezra Brooks,
Crushed ice, Mint Bitters
Gently muddle mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a julep cup, then add the bourbon and pack with ice. Swirl it all around in the cup so that it gets frosty, then add more ice to the top. Garnish with the mint sprig and dash of mint bitters.
CINCO DE MAYO — Sunday May 5th
If the all day drinking of bourbon on Derby Day didn’t wear you out then the quickly following of Cinco de Mayo certainly will. Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexico’s Independence (which is actually September 16th), but rather a celebration of Mexico’s victory in the battle at Puebla on May 5th, 1862 during the Franco-Mexican war. An unlikely victory but thank god they did or we all might be drinking French 75s instead of the classic Margarita!
One of the earliest stories is of the Margarita being invented in 1938 by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria, halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Baja California, created for customer and former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King, who was allergic to many spirits, but not to tequila. So its understandable that the limited ways to disguise the tequila existed. But how did the Margarita become so famous. Synonymous with spring break, Mexico, and wild nights dancing on the table. Why did the Margarita get cast into super stardom? It’s a perfectly balanced cocktail, and like the Mint Julep has its own glass! There are few other tequila cocktails as well known nor do they have as many variations. Spicy jalapeño, Cucumber, Prickly Pear, Strawberry, skinny… the variations are endless. Which is why we are going to pick just one to highlight today.
4 ounces blanco tequila
4 Ounces of homemade mix (thats lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, and water to taste) err on the side of less sweet here
2 ounces of prickly pear syrup (this is the best because it adds a level of sweetness without being cloying)
Salt for rim (optional)
Lime wedge, for garnish….
VIVA LA MEXICO
No matter which side of the border you are on. There is a cocktail for you. Next weekend is one of the most exciting times to be in NYC and one of the most delicious. So wear that sear sucker and derby hat on Saturday and drink that Mint Julep! Then get up bright and early on Sunday and celebrate with sombreros and Margaritas in the streets even if you don’t speak Spanish, we all speak the language of great cocktails.