I’ve been nostalgic about Kentucky this week. Partly because I’ve never been gone this long. But also it’s the way the mid-morning sun nestles on the leaves outside my window. I’ve seen the sun perch like this before on old trees back in Louisville. I’m reminded of brisk, silver cast walks to school and sweaty, sunny walks home, with the relief and excitement of a summer almost ripe. The sun has a particular way of shimmering just so at the dawn of May, and that can only mean one thing: it’s Derby week in the Bluegrass.
I can see my Dad at the kitchen table with his racing form, handicapping the horses. Today’s copy of The Courier Journal—filled with thoroughbred facts and hat histories– resting close by. The local news anchors chattering about specialty cuisines, fashion, and celebrity sightings. Like many, my Dad doesn’t attend the derby anymore, but you don’t have to actually go to feel the spirit of the city. It’s alive, and you can pick up on its pulse from anywhere. The season kicks off with a spectacular fireworks display, a hot air balloon race, and includes a marathon, a parade, and the Belle of Louisville swaying down the Ohio in the Great Steam Boat Race.
If ever there’s a time to feel the spirit of Louisville, it’s now. I bet even the weatherman has a pep in his step. The forecast for the first Saturday in May (because yes, I’ve checked) shows sunny and in the 70’s. This means a dry racetrack, oddly patterned sunburns, and copious amounts of mint juleps. I can see Louisville grinning all the way from Georgia. Cheers!
Simple Syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled ’til the sugar dissolves)
Fresh mint leaves
Coarse sugar (optional)
Put the leaves in the bottom of the glass (or shaker) and pour an oz. of the simple syrup in. Muddle the leaves. If you don’t have a muddling tool, improvise. I used a spoon to mash the leaves down. Add in the ice, then Bourbon to taste. Mix. To jazz it up, put some sugar around the rim.