It is safe to say that you already have a floppy hat picked out. You may also be trying to memorize the lyrics for that song they sing right before they let the doggies loose at Churchill Downs. It’s OK. No one knows the fucking song- and it makes me cringe when I see Joey Fatone in a douchey denim fedora trying his hardest to get it right. So, if you are going to put in all the work to have a perfect derby day, don’t ruin it by ordering a drink that is definitively not a mint julep. Jeffrey Morgenthaler, an important pioneer in the bar tending world, gets it right with his sentiment and video response to a poorly made, um, something-ruther. (I consider this piece of sort film a Classic by the way, ranking right up there with Goodfellas and The Big Lebowski- it is that good.)
Much like the case of mistaken identity that can lead to someone peeing on your rug or weasels in your bath, know who (or in this case, what) you are dealing with when it comes to the mint julep. I think there are a few red flags when it comes to ordering this delicious and pretty simple-to-make cocktail, but I do not know where you spend your imbiborous time, so I shall elaborate.
1. Cups– With all fairness to establishments and households generous enough to host a derby party, your julep should come in at least a correct glass if not a proper julep cup. The red Solo cups do not get a pass here. A 12 oz receptacle is probably the biggest you want to see someone go for when you order this drink. Yes, I know people get drunk and drop things after 6 hours of drinking to watch 3 mins of running horses. But please, serve it in the right cup.
2. Ice– Crushed ice only. If someone has not taken the time to crush ice and solely relies on the cubed form, then they aren’t doing their job. I wonder what a Slurpee would be like on the rocks? Probably way too fucking sweet, would be my guess. Water is a crucial part of any cocktail- it smooths things out. That is why some drinks are shaken, some are stirred and some are put into a blender. Crushed ice will melt quite a bit faster balancing out the strength of the whiskey and sweetness of the sugar. Plus, it makes the drink ultra cold adding to the refreshment factor.
3. Mint Beat to Shit– Probably the most disturbing thing is seeing someone “muddle” mint to the point where it looks like you scraped it off the shield of your weed-whacker. They make that terrible muddle face too, as they go to town on the nice piece of mint like doing that will result in more flavor. And the worst part is that those little pieces of mint conveniently clog up the straw or end up in my teeth. Pieces of plant floating in your drink is a bad sign, so maybe reconsider when you see someone working a little to hard on your cocktail.
These are just a few signs that your drink might suck. I’m sure there’s a menu out there that offers a strawberry bacon julep or something similar- but on a day where you want to dress nice and class it up a bit, don’t you deserve better?