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Derby Day!

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Derby Day!

Also known as Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports and is the official start of the summer social season. But you don't have to be in Kentucky to enjoy some southern hospitality. Mix-up a batch or two of Mint Juleps, invite some friends over, serve some cheesy biscuits and put on the big screen. For a bit of Churchill Downs grand stand color, put on a fancy hat, and you're off to the races with true southern style!

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Mint Juleps adapted from Punch, by Colleen Mullaney, Chronicle publishers
Serves 4

2 oz. mint infused simple syrup
8 oz. Kentucky bourbon ( Maker's Mark)
3 cups crushed ice
4 oz. seltzer
Mint leaves for garnish

Fill julep glasses with crushed ice. Combine simple syrup and bourbon in a cocktail shaker filled half way with crushed ice. Strain mixture into glasses, top with seltzer, garnish with mint sprig and serve.

Mint-Infused Simple Syrup
Makes scant 1 cup

1 cup water
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup mint leaves, washed

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and the liquid becomes clear, about five minutes. Remove from heat and add mint leaves. Let stand for 15-30 minutes. Strain the syrup and discard the mint leaves. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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All that Fuss about a Cup!

Although the tried and true Southern Belles call for an ice-frosted silver cup -- either sterling or coin silver -- finished in a simple design (I love to add to my collection when I find one or two at antique sales), there's no pressure, and use what you have, as the real prize lies in the glass!

Peach Perfect
A zesty and extra sweet version of the traditional julep, this adds a true touch of the South.

Peach Juleps
Serves 4
2 oz. peach and mint infused simple syrup.
8 oz. Kentucky bourbon (Maker's Mark)
3 cups crushed ice
4 oz. seltzer
Mint leaves for garnish

Fill julep glasses with crushed ice.
Combine simple syrup and bourbon in a cocktail shaker filled half-way with ice. Strain into glasses. Top with seltzer, garnish with mint sprig and serve!

Peach and mint infused simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup mint leaves, washed
2 fresh peaches, sliced

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and the liquid becomes clear, about five minutes. Add peaches and reduce heat to simmer, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat add in mint, let stand for 15-30 minutes. Strain the syrup and discard the peaches and mint leaves. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.