Here in the Bluegrass we are well-known for two things, Bourbon and Horse Racing, and nothing combines these traditions together better than the crisp and refreshing Mint Julep. I love this time of year; I have received or bought so many Julep cups over the years for graduations, baby showers or finely monogrammed Christmas sets. And April I relish pulling them down to polish and prepare for all of our Derby celebrations. Whether it’s a dinner party with guests in town for the Derby, a cocktail party for the Oaks or a garden party with all of our friends to watch the race from home, my eclectic mix of silver cups is always a hit.
I love to look around my home and see guests laughing as they raise their glasses — a glint of silver and the waft of fresh mint and smooth bourbon bringing everyone together for a favorite Kentucky tradition. This year I have a few gatherings to host here and there, so I wanted to take the fun I have with my collection of cups and shake up the drink recipes as well. I thought I’d start by adding in one of my favorite flavors — pomegranate — to this wonderful libation, giving it a pop of color that highlights the frosty silver and sprig of green even more. Because we’re only a few weeks away from Derby and the Bluegrass is still getting snow, we’re going to add as much color to the party as we can. So cheers to warmer weather and a safe Derby!
Pomegranate Mint Julep
1 sprig fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar in the raw
1 1/2 ounces bourbon (we like Woodford Reserve)
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
To make the simple syrup: You can make this in a large batch and store it in a sealed bottle, refrigerated for up to a month. Mix equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan, stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Strain into bottle.
To make the Julep: I like to keep my julep cups in the fridge until I’m ready to serve them; this keeps them nice and chilled. Fill to the brim with crushed ice. Muddle 4-5 mint leaves with the sugar and simple syrup in a mixing glass, then add bourbon and PAMA and stir or shake until mixed. Pour over top of the ice and add a large leaf or two of the mint to the edge of the glass. Enjoy!