This coming Saturday, May 1st, is Kentucky Derby Day, the occasion when an army of three-year-old horses runs for the roses (and big money) in Louisville. The dress: Sunhats and seersucker. The betting: wild. And the cocktail: Mint Juleps. Who better to advise you on your preparations for that occasion than Walker Percy? Here the literary legend provides the perfect recipe (from “Bourbon,” included in “Sign-Posts in a Strange Land.”)
“Drinking mint juleps, famed Southern Bourbon drink, though in the Deep South not really drunk much. In fact, they are drunk so seldom that when, say, on Derby Day somebody gives a julep party, people drink them like cocktails, forgetting that a good julep holds at least five ounces of Bourbon. Men fall facedown unconscious, women wander in the woods disconsolate and amnesiac, full of thoughts of Kahlil Gibran and the limberlost….
“Reader,…here’s my favorite recipe, “Cud’n Walker’s Uncle Will’s Favorite Mint Julep Receipt.”
“You need excellent bourbon whiskey; rye or Scotch will not do. Put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampen it with water. Next, very quickly—and here is the trick in the procedure—crush your ice, actually powder it—preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remains dry, and, slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, cram the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Finally, fill the glass, which apparently has no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grate a bit of nutmeg on the top. The glass will frost immediately. Then settle back in your chair for half an hour of cumulative bliss.”