VERY YEAR I COME agonizingly close to winning decent money on the Derby, feel miserable for the rest of the day, and swear never to bet again. This year, the 136th Run for the Roses, was no different. To minimize my disappointment in case of a loss, I decided to keep my wagering to a very modest $25, a strategy also guaranteed to maximize my disappointment in case of a win. I also resolved to stick to win bets, to avoid the special misery that comes from picking 2/3 of a trifecta. I opened a Bodog.com account, something I’ve been meaning to do since I learned of this wonderful service from a urinal mat in Murray Hill. Then I texted my friends for tips and got down to the business at hand: deviled eggs.
I’ve eaten deviled eggs on Derby day for almost a decade. I was habituated to this high-cholesterol amuse-bouche by the women of Dartmouth’s Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, who tolerated my presence—perhaps by failing to notice it—each year at their outstanding Derby party. With all due respect to KDE’s lovely, generous, cunningly decorated eggs, I’ve never been satisfied with the traditional mixture of mayo, dry mustard, and yolk. To that I added whole grain mustard, white wine vinegar, capers, and, last but not least, delicious Kelchner’s horseradish. (If you are a representative of Kelchner Food Products of Dublin, Pennsylvania, please click the tip button to the right.) The finished product is lightly dusted not with paprika but with ground cayenne pepper.
As I gobbled eggs, intel began to dribble in. Max liked Line of David and the filly, Devil May Care; Rollo was all about Ice Box; Alston rattled off a series of box trifectas; Stethers asked me if I understood “parimutuel betting with exotic wagers” and was promptly scratched. The People’s Horse, Noble’s Promise, was pretty appealing on principle, too—but when contest winner Glen Fullerton announced he’d put his $100,000 on Super Saver, and I saw that Calvin Borel was the jockey, I decided that was the way to go. And then, right on cue, Bodog.com succumbed to the dreaded “high volume of traffic.” I wouldn’t be placing any bets, after all.
Well, time for a mint julep, then. At least there was fresh curly mint growing in my neighbors’ backyard, and a handle of Evan Williams (it’s not Pappy Van Winkle, but then this blog is called The Poor Mouth, isn’t it?) in my backpack. I dialed up Max’s recipe on the Huffington Post and got to work. Or rather, got someone else to get to work. Cricket (really) had prepared the simple sizzurp the night before: “The day before you need the drinks, make a batch of simple syrup by combining one cup each of sugar and water in a sauce pan, and bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Some recipes call for five minutes of boiling, but whenever the syrup is clear and the sugar is dissolved, you are finished. Cut the heat and let it cool.”
Max’s next step advised the preparation of minted syrup, which we hadn’t done in advance, and had no time to do now. So we just followed the same directions, substituting “mint and syrup” for “mint syrup,” as follows: “The ratio of mint syrup to bourbon is largely up to you and depends, after all, on how sweet you like your drink. I like three ounces of bourbon to one ounce of syrup. Which means that one cup of minted simple syrup is enough for a 750 ml bottle of bourbon.”
“Strain a cup of mint syrup into a carafe and pour in a bottle of bourbon, give it a stir. (If you need it to be portable, buy a liter bottle of bourbon, fill up a flask and then fill the bottle back up with the mint syrup.) Now crush a whole heaping mountain of ice and keep a bunch of mint in a glass for garnish. Scoop ice, pour julep, garnish with mint, gamble away savings.” I couldn’t have guessed how badly I’d need this drink: Not only had I not been able to place my winning bet, but that rat bastard Alston had hit the trifecta on a one-dollar wager, netting $1150. Should he need something to spend it on, I’d like to point out that he’s forgotten my last eight or nine birthdays, and I’d really like one of these.