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Book Review

The Kentucky Mint Julep
by Colonel Joe Nickell
The University Press of Kentucky
83 pages hardcover, dimensions: 4.75" x 6.75"

When the mint is in the liquor and
its fragrance is in the glass,
It breathes a recollection that
can never, never pass.

                  - Clarence Ousley

This small volume contains a wealth of information about the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep. From the history of the word, to amusing stories involving the drink, to over 20 recipes, to the Bourbon Trail, just about anything you can think of about the venerable mint julep has been included. Presented in a small, handsome cloth-bound volume with a dust cover, the book is an attractive addition to anyone's library.

Written by Colonel Joe Nickell, yes a real Kentucky Colonel who is quite an interesting character in his own right, the book starts off with the origin of the word julep. The history behind each of the ingredients then unfolds followed by the origin of the drink that became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby back in 1938. The second segment of the book is "Julep Lore," a compilation of tales, anecdotes, quotes, and more in praise of the julep from such people as Charles Dickens and Washington Irving. The third segment is a collection of over 20 historic and modern mint julep recipes, including low-cal, non-alcoholic, and fancy versions plus a punchbowl recipe perfect for a Derby party. Some interesting variations are presented as well a place left for the reader to include his or her own favorite version. Remember, a julep should always be served in a silver or pewter cup if you want to follow the true tradition. The final segment covers the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a tour seven of the country's oldest bourbon distilleries. Each distillery is presented with a brief history, their specialties, and tour information.

Colonel Nickell is a Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal whose past occupations include such diverse fields as stage magician, private investigator, blackjack dealer, and university instructor. His interest in the mint julep was inspired by a pewter julep cup he received as a going away gift when he moved from Kentucky to New York. In an effort to know more about the concoction for which the cup was intended, he made a thorough investigation of the history and lore of the mint julep which resulted in this book.

Although small, the book presents information you will find nowhere else about the mint julep. The recipes run from the basic to fancy ones using champagne or added flavors, making it a great resource for entertaining. Any fan of the Derby or mint juleps will find this book a charming addition to their shelf.

The Kentucky Mint Julep has a list price of $12.00 and is available from for $9.60.

Rating:     4/5

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