What's more classic to celebrate the Kentucky Derby than wearing a fancy hat with a mint julep in hand?
Southern Living's new cookbook Feel Good Food has a great festive way to gather on Derby Day — set up a mint julep bar with assorted flavored syrups like Grapefruit-Honey and Peach-Basil.
Place mint leaves and syrup in a chilled julep cup, and muddle. Pack cup tightly with crushed ice; add bourbon and mint sprig.
• Mint Syrup: Boil 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add 15 fresh mint sprigs, and cool completely. Cover and chill 24 hours. Strain syrup; discard solids.
• Grapefruit-Honey Syrup: Prepare Mint Syrup as directed, reducing sugar to ½ cup and stir in ¾ cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1 cup honey, 3 (2-inch-by-4-inch) grapefruit rind strips, and rind from 1 lime, cut into strips, add into sugar mixture with mint. For julep, muddle with 1 small grapefruit rind strip.
• Peach-Basil Syrup: Prepare Mint Syrup as directed, substituting basil for mint and stirring 2 (5.5-ounce) cans peach nectar and 1 split vanilla bean into sugar mixture with basil. For julep, muddle with 1 peach slice.
• Blackberry Syrup: Prepare Mint Syrup as directed, adding 6 ounces fresh blackberries, halved, with mint. For julep, muddle with 2 fresh blackberries.
• Pineapple-Lemongrass Syrup: Prepare Mint Syrup as directed, reducing granulated sugar to 1 cup, adding 1 cup light brown sugar to granulated sugar and water, and stir in 1 cup pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and 3 (3-inch) pieces fresh lemongrass into sugar mixture with mint after removing from heat. For julep, muddle with 1 small fresh pineapple chunk.