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Nothing says Kentucky Derby like oversized hats, fast horses and the tiny men and women who ride them and, of course, the mint julep. The classic is a pretty uncomplicated recipe: simple syrup, mint and bourbon. But I can’t help myself when it comes to messing around with the classics. Taking a cue from the ridiculously over-the-top flowery hats those genteel southern ladies don, I give the mint julep a floral kick in the face.

I started with an amazing simple syrup kit I got from Vena’s Fizz House—Vena’s Floral Simple Syrup—the bottle contains everything needed to make a floral simple syrup, including hibiscus flowers and rose petals. All you do is add hot water to the bottle and shake it up. Vena’s was also kind enough to lend me the beautiful vintage copper vessel used in the photo.

Continuing with the floral theme, I use Fee Brothers Jasmine Flower Water for the rinse, after testing out their Lavender Water and Rose Water. The others worked lovely, but were a bit too perfumey. I add a teaspoon of Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes, which is made with flowers hand-picked in the French Riviera. Fancy!

Of course I use Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon, because it has the word “roses” and “Kentucky” right in the name. It just makes sense. It is also a delicious bourbon.

I love all my cocktails equally, but I love this baby just a little bit more.

THE RECIPE

Fee Brothers Jasmine Flower Water rinse
1/2 teaspoon Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes
1/2 ounce Vena’s Floral Simple Syrup
2 ounces Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Rinse your julep cup or vintage copper mug with the Jasmine Flower Water, then fill your chosen vessel with crushed ice. Take fresh mint and bruise it (I just squished it a little and tossed it in the shaker. You might choose to press it against the side of the shaker with a spoon. Just don’t muddle the life out of it.) Add ice to the shaker, along with the rest of the ingredients, and shake. Pour into your fancy vessel, garnish with fresh mint and sit back and enjoy the races. Remember to place your bets early. The one and only time I went to the races, I bet $5 on Jesus (I can’t remember if that was the jockey’s name or the horse’s name…) and won $125. I immediately spent all of my winnings on oysters.

Jessie resides at the heart of downtown Portland with her border collie puppy Josie, making cocktails and trouble.

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