If what excited you most about the Kentucky Derby is horseracing and oversized hats, well, you’ve come to the wrong place. For us, the annual event is nothing less than an unabashed celebration of the Mint Julep, one of our favorite, seasonal cocktails. Considered the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby for over 70 years, the standard julep is made with bourbon, sugar, water, and mint. But this is New York, not the Deep South and our cocktail scene is infinitely more exciting — so why limit yourself to sipping one single rendition of the centuries old tipple and why drink them solely on Derby Day?
One of our favorite renditions in all of the five boroughs is served at Williamsburg oyster house and cocktail den, Maison Premiere. This Brooklyn hotspot currently boasts the largest collection of premium absinthes in the city, and houses the world’s most accurate working replica of the Absinthe Fountain from the famed Olde Absinthe House in New Orleans. And don’t even get us started on their $1 oyster happy hour, where patrons can choose from up to 30 varieties of briny mollusks, culled from a 60-strong list.
But back to the Juleps: Maison Premiere serves six, top-notch renditions of the classic cocktail during the spring/summer season. Where to begin? There’s the “Magnum Opus,” a beautifully balanced blend of Dry Vermouth, Rosemary Syrup and Grapefruit Bitters, the “Spanish Crown” with a smoky-sweet blend of Lemongrass Mezcal, Sherry, blueberries and lemon, and the “Zombie #6,” with Plantation Rum, Goslings, Diplomatico, and Pineapple Lime Syrup. Lest we forget the “Flag Officer Julep,” made with Grappa, Chamomile Syrup, and Champagne.
And while most cocktails tend to battle with the food menu and are usually best before or after the meal, Maison Premiere’s Juleps complement briny, spring dishes, like Cod Brandade, Sea Urchin with Housemade Pasta and Ramps, and Crayfish Bread with Horseradish Remoulade perfectly. So why limit yourself to Juleps one day a year when you can drink this classic all year round?