The julep is a classic example of a cocktail with history. It is thought to have been created on a horse farm in the late 1700s. Farmwork was very laborious and took a toll on the body. There were no over-the-counter pain relievers at the corner drugstore back then, but there was a lot of whiskey. The whiskeys at that time didn’t taste as good as they do today. So, with the help of a little sugar and mint, the “medicine” went down easier. The muscles would relax and it was then time to get back to work. They called this remedy a “Morning Bracer.” At the end of the day, one would also need an “Evening Bracer.” The cocktail then went on to become a refined drink of the South, now synonymous with the first Saturday in May and the running of the Kentucky Derby.
These are appropriately yummy morning, noon, and night. Serve them at breakfast, brunch, cocktail hour, or dinner with a homemade aioli, sour cream or hot pepper jelly. You may have your own favorite gristmill for good grits, but we are very partial to Louismill Smoked Yellow Corn City Grits, which lend another nuanced smokiness in addition to the country ham.
Lots of Southern shrimp and grits recipes call for the addition of bacon, but we like the aromatic smell and taste of Louisiana Tasso, a Creole ham that you’ll find as the foundation (along with the Holy Trinity of sautéed onions, peppers, and celery) of any respectable gumbo or jambalaya. This recipe is actually a riff on redeye gravy, an old Southern gravy using coffee and country ham. We serve these to thousands of guests each Derby at Churchill Downs.
Henry Bain was one of the first employees of Louisville’s exclusive Pendennis Club, which was founded in 1881. According to the legend, his first job was to run the elevator, but he ended up as the headwaiter and established himself forever in Kentucky history with his signature namesake sauce. He created it to accompany steaks and wild game. The club eventually bottled and sold the sauce, and today it’s made, bottled, and distributed by Louisville’s Bourbon Barrel Foods. This is the official recipe created by Bain, and it is delicious alongside everything from roast turkey to grilled hamburgers. You can also pour it over cream cheese and serve it with crackers as an appetizer. This recipe makes a large amount, so put it in jars and give it as gifts to friends and family. It’s a wonderful little taste of Kentucky. Serve this recipe when you really want to impress.
"Mother would take blocks of American cheese, jars of Miracle Whip, and cans of pimentos, sit under the post oaks and grind them together with a clamp-on-the-table meat grinder." That's how pimento cheese was made in Patrick's family. This version started out pretty much the way Patrick's mother's did, with pimentos and mayonnaise but Cheddar and Jack rather than American cheese. Then, feeling the pimentos were not as tasty as they once might have been, we switched to thick, jarred Spanish peppers and bolstered the mix with smoked paprika, along with plenty of pepper and a little mustard. The resulting cheese, in our assessment, can be addicting, whether on a cracker or in a sandwich."
Whenever Verba has the urge, she will make a huge bowl of the best pimiento cheese you have ever tasted.