(This cocktail was featured in the May newlsetter for Wilderness Trail Distillery.)
I celebrate Derby season by creating riffs off the mint julep. Every year I create a few, and this year, I wanted to play with the floral aromas of spring with this lavender julep. It’s been a hard spring for so many people, but the season is about renewal, rebirth, and the tenacity of life to spring forth each and every year. And I found the perfect balance and pairing with Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bourbon, lavender, and blueberries. While this is best served over cracked ice in a frosty julep cup, I wanted to showcase the color and lavender garnish by presenting it in a coupe glass, dressed up in it’s Derby finest and ready to celebrate a Derby Day without the Derby. Because I think a lot of us will put on a fancy outfit, toss on an outlandish Derby hat or bowtie and sip a julep or three on the first Saturday in May.
The Kentucky Derby is more than just a two-minute race to those in the state. The state, and specifically Louisville, revolves around the Derby the way people count their calendar by December holidays. Starting in February and March, the city becomes expectant and starts to bustle. You mark your time as events that happen before Derby or after Derby, and you never really think much about that. Until it’s gone.
This year, the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby has been moved to September 5th, and the city feels lost and unmoored as the first Saturday in May approaches. Normally we would be exhausted from the month of events leading up to the Derby, but this year, it’s quiet, solemn. It’s silent.
But Kentucky is filled with resilient people, and whether or not the horses are running on the first Saturday in May, and whether or not we can gather with friends and family, we will each be marking the day. Whether it’s making juleps and Derby pie for two in my house, or sitting in the backyard, playing games with the kids and sipping bourbon, we’ll mark today. And we’ll remember it.
One of the things I love best about this cocktail is that although it is sweet and floral, the Wilderness Trail bourbon shines through, easy to taste and appreciate, whether you’re serving it up in a coupe or as a traditional julep. And it’s not a cocktail limited to just a first Saturday in May. Rather, it’s a refreshing and sophisticated cocktail you can enjoy all summer, whether or not we’re still limited in gatherings or able to enjoy the company of others.
So I’m calling it Weep No More, part of the chorus of My Old Kentucky Home, because Kentucky feels like home to so many of us in the bourbon community, no matter where we live. And how we spend the first weekend in May is less important than the fact that we mark the day together as a family and community of people who love bourbon, horses and all things Kentucky.
(If you’re looking for more julep recipes, you can find a series here on my website and they include the Root Beer Float Julep and the Elvis Julep, among others.)
Weep No More
- 2 oz Wilderness Trail Single Barrel Bourbon
- ¼ oz lavender syrup
- ½ oz scant Monin’s blueberry syrup
- 3 drops Scrappy’s Lavender bitters
- Garnish: fresh blueberries and a lavender sprig
- Combine bourbon, syrups and bitters in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well-combined and chilled. Strain either a) into a chilled coupe and garnish with a fresh lavender sprig and fresh blueberries or b) into a julep cup filled with ice and garnish with a lavender sprig right next to the straw and a few fresh blueberries on top.