Kentucky Derby coverage isn't complete, in our minds, without showing men in formal wear and ladies sporting outlandish, feather-bedecked hats sipping at cold little cups of mint julep-ish goodness.
Once we spy a sprig of mint leaves poking up out of a cup on television, what is the arguably the world's most famous horse race can begin. Which it is doing in 2010 on Saturday, May 1.
But since we're not going to be a Churchill Downs, savoring a soft spring day while we jump up and down and root for our pony, we have to find our mint julep heaven right here in SoCal:
Disneyland: It's true; our most famous theme park is pretty much synonymous with the mint julep in Southern California. That places serve the herb-y sip in New Orleans Square is no surprise, really. For drinks without the alcohol -- this is Disneyland, after all -- head for the Mint Julep Bar (that's a cinch to remember). Upstairs in New Orleans Square, oh-so-secret Club 33 is mixing their juleps with real, honest bourbon. We had one. It was served in a icy silver cup. Our fingers left oval prints on the frosty metal sides. The liquor was choice. And we still think of this sublime experience, pretty much every day.
Galco's: Cases and cases of mint julep pop in wee, too-cute bottles is a frequent sight at this soda star. There's no bourbon in the stuff, of course, making it a prime sip for your designated driver on Derby-watching day.
Gus's Barbecue: The stylish South Pas go-to for savory barbecue mixes up julep-y concoctions. The bourbon roster is impressive and extensive. We think anything rib-y would make a fine side to our drink.
Little Dom's: Spearmint gives the julep zing at this Los Feliz cafe. Raw sugar is in there, too. Although just a few skips above it on the menu is a bacon cocktail, which is a huge eye-catcher as well.
Rivera: The downtown hotspot is known for bespoke cocktails -- it says so right on the menu -- so bet they know their julepry. The one on the menu is made with the classic ingredients.
South: The pleasures of the Southern plate are at the heart of this Santa Monica eatery, which does up its own mint julep. The gumbos, the shrimp and cheesy grits and the Fannie Flagg (made with fried green tomatoes, natch) look highly orderable.
Seven Grand: Old-school drinks in an old-school spot. No surprise that the julep is a menu standard, being one of the old-schooliest of sips. The dark, woodsy surroundings are sort of the opposite of a sunny day at the track, and that's okay.