Juleps in Minneapolis

I was flying back from Minneapolis yesterday, so I missed the Kentucky Derby, but I did make every attempt to try the race’s signature drink: the mint julep.

Confession: To this day, I’ve never had a traditional mint julep, which is surprising considering I love bourbon, one of the drinks key ingredients (depending on how you make it). But I did have a Blackberry Julep at my hotel, the fabulous Graves 601. Made with Marie Brizard blackberry liqueur, fresh blackberries, a squeeze of lemon juice and served up in a sugar-rimmed martini glass, this cocktail was not only delicious, it was purple — which was fitting considering the hotel is situated right next to First Avenue (the club made famous by the film Purple Reign).

And for another variation of the julep, try this:
Mint Julep Martini
From Southern Cocktails: Dixie Drinks, Party Potions, and Classic Libations
7 Fresh mint leaves
1 T. simple syrup
2 oz. vanilla vodka
Sugar-coated mint sprig, for garnish*

Add the mint leaves and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker; muddle the mint to release the flavor. Add the vodka and ice; shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Add garnish.

*To coat mint in sugar, dip the sprig into a small dish of simple syrup before dredging it in superfine or granulated sugar.

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