Julep Cocktail Club shares Southern bites and craft cocktail recipes, including a delicious twist on a mint julep, for all your equine gatherings from the Kentucky Derby to the Belmont Stakes — or just host a spring or garden-themed gathering. Hint: Mother’s Day is May 8.
Keely Edgington and Beau Williams at Julep
Whiskey-dedicated Julep Cocktail Club is one of the swankiest spots in town for whiskey tastings and artisanal cocktail sips based on various spirits. Just name the obscure Kentucky, Japanese or Scottish whiskey of your choice and a dapper, vest-clad bartender will fetch it via an antique-inspired library ladder. The ceiling-high collection of nearly 400 bottles is personally curated by owner Beau Williams (formerly bartender at Manifesto). Williams’ wife and co-owner, Keely Edgington, plays hostess in the chic space, described by The New York Times as a “mash-up of Art Deco glamour and midcentury modern simplicity.” Ladies may take a shining to the honeydew-melon-flavored Dr. Bunson from the new spring cocktail menu (honeydew melon, line juice, mint, St. Germaine liquor, cucumber vodka), while men will gravitate to solid whiskey libations such as the C Brown ( J.T.S. Brown Kentucky whiskey, orange juice, KC Canning Co.’s 7-Pepper Jelly, simple syrup, lemon juice and garnished with a pickled pepper). The Southern vibe is reinforced with a menu of Dixie-inspired cocktail bites such as beer-batter-fried pickled okra with spicy aioli and Low Country crab dip (recipe below). The Julep team recently added a Southern Bluegrass Brunch to their repertoire on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, with live bluegrass music and dishes such as shrimp and grits, a crab cake egg Benedict, or waffles with maple syrup plus bottomless mimosas. Note: Bluegrass Brunch has temporarily been postponed due to a family health emergency. And come Kentucky Derby Day, the entire Westport establishment will be awash in bespoke Derby hats, whiskey flights and several variations of potent mint juleps worthy of Churchill Downs.
Julep Cocktail Club is located at 4141 Pennsylvania Ave., No. 104, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 216-7000, julepkc.com.
Kentucky Derby Recipes
Deviled Eggs with Julep Aioli
15 hardboiled yolks, reserve the halved whites
1 cup aioli (recipe below)
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 Tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1/2 Tablespoon sliced chives
1/4 teaspoon chopped capers
Salt and pepper, to taste
Puree first four ingredients, then fold in onion, chive and capers. Season to taste. Scoop or pipe filling into the reserved egg whites. Makes 30 deviled eggs.
For the Julep Aioli
5 egg yolks
3/4 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
2 cups vegetable oil
Water, as needed
Salt, to taste
Using an immersion blender or hand mixer, combine yolks, mustard and garlic. Blend together, gradually adding in the oil to create a thick emulsion. Add a little water to thin the aioli, if necessary, and season to taste.
Low Country Crab Dip
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Julep aioli (see recipe above)
16 ounces of special crabmeat (we use lump), drained, cartilage removed
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
2 3/4 tablespoons hot sauce (we use Louisiana hot sauce)
pinch kosher salt
pinch garlic salt
lemon zest and chopped parsley for garnish
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, aioli, celery, salt, garlic salt and hot sauce. Gently fold in chopped crab. Garnish with lemon zest and parsley to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made one day ahead.
The Deep, Deep South cocktail (left) and the Garden & Gun cocktail (Right)
Garden & Gun Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Hendrick's Gin
1 ounce honey-lavender syrup (recipe below)
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3 dashes Regan's Orange Bitter No. 6
For the Honey-Lavender Syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup water
2 tablespoons dried lavender
In a small saucepan on low heat, stir to combine honey and water. Pour into a mason jar and cool to room temperature. Add 2 tablespoons of dried lavender and allow to steep in fridge overnight. Strain using tea strainer the next day. Discard spent lavender. Syrup can be kept in the fridge for one week.
Garden & Gun Cocktail Assembly
In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients. Add ice, shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled coupé glass. Garnish with a thin slice of cucumber or a single rose petal. Serves one.
An arrangement of viburnum, Japanese ranunculus, sweet pea, helleborus and stock by The Little Flower Shop evokes spring.
The Deep, Deep South Cocktail (a Mint Julep Variation)
1 1/2 ounces Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged Cachaça
1 ounce or more of Kansas City Canning Co. Blood Orange Ginger Shrub
8-10 mint leaves
Add 8-10 mint leaves to a traditional silver julep cup; gently muddle. Next, pour the Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged Cachaça into the same cup and fill it generously with crushed ice. Top with Kansas City Canning Co.'s Blood Orange Ginger Shrub. Add more crushed ice to top (if possible) and 3 hearty sprigs of mint (necessary). Serves one.
Deviled eggs with Julep aioli; Low Country Crab Dip; a bottle of Woodford Reserve, the official spirit of the Kentucky Derby and used in Julep's The Deep, Deep South cocktail; and plastic toy horses spray painted metallic gold create a Run for the Roses party spread.