What I’m Drinking Now: Derby Days

I love the Kentucky Derby…big hats, fast horses and great cocktails.  In honor of the festive occasion I have been sipping a few tasty concoctions that may be perfect for race day.

I had a basil martini at Hibiscus the other night, and I am completely obsessed with it now.  I have created a version that is fantastic.  Basically it is like a mojito, but with vodka and basil instead of rum and mint.
Basil Martini
2 oz vodka
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz soda
15 fresh basil leaves
squeeze of lime
In a cocktail shaker add all ingredients. Muddle the basil into the liquids.  Add a cup of ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a single, whole basil leaf.
So good!

Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini
I used to love these back in the day.  They are so refreshing, and quick to make, that I still do.
2 oz vodka
2 oz freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until very cold.  Pour in a sugar rimmed martini glass.

If you want to go classic Kentucky Derby, I received a mint julep recipe that is quite tasty from master distiller for Wild Turkey, Jimmy Russell.
THE 56 JULEP
2.5 oz. Wild Turkey 101
3 sprigs of mint (six to eight mature-sized leaves)
1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
.5 cup crushed ice
In a traditional silver julep cup or double-old fashioned glass, muddle two sprigs of mint with the brown sugar and one ounce of Wild Turkey 101 for a few minutes, crushing the mint leaves with a spoon. Add the crushed ice, the remaining bourbon, and garnish with sprig of mint.

Or if wine is always calling, as it usually does for me, I tried a Wild Fermented Single Vineyard Valdivieso Sauvignon Blancfrom Chile.  This was sent for editorial consideration, and was such a different wine that I was glad to have it.  It was reminiscent of a French style, with the citrus your would expect with a Sauvignon Blanc, but hints of caramel and honey coated the palate beautifully.  Aromas were filled with lemon cream and herbs.  It was really lovely, and interesting.

Inama Vin Soave Classico– The Veneto region of Italy is one of my most favorites. Great wine (including Amarone and Proseco also come out of the Veneto region.) And I love a Soave.  Think of it is a beefed up Pinot Grigio, without all the citrus and acidity that can sometimes come from a Sauvignon Blanc.  Inama’s Vin Soave Classico is a light, stainless steel fermented wine with light floral and stone fruit aromas, and flavors filled with hazelnut, peaches and almonds.

Frank Family 2008 Napa Valley Carneros Pinot Noir – This is not the typical California Pinot Noir, though it has some of the fruit forward notes that characterize many Cali Pinots, filled with bright berry and cherry flavors. Frank Family also has a layer of earthiness that I love in a Pinot, with cedar and smoke from 11 months of new and once or twice used French oak, and not typically found in a California version.  Production remains small on this wine, another reason to try Frank Family, as their quality is always a focus above high production.

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