A Master Bourbon Taster -- who is also a certified etiquette, image and professional speaker, Peggy Noe Stevens creates one-of-a-kind experiences for both people and places. Her signature style, expertise and creativity led to her induction into the 2019 Bourbon Hall of Fame and 2020 Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. She is the only female in the world to receive both Hall of Fame awards.
Ahead of the Kentucky Derby, we asked Peggy some questions as we plan to celebrate the Derby here in NYC.
How do you make a perfect Mint Julep?
I am traditional and boil equal parts of sugar and water until it dissolves. I tear fresh mint leaves and let them steep in the warm syrup, just to extract the mint oil. I muddle a mint leaf at the bottom of the julep cup and add 1-2 ounces of bourbon and an ounce, or two of the syrup. I then fill with crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.
What is the best bourbon for a Mint Julep?
KENTUCKY BOURBON! I may be partial, but THE OFFICIAL BOURBON of the Derby is Woodford Reserve.
Is there any special etiquette around Derby celebrations?
While there is not an official etiquette, you are required to have FUN! Bright colors and Spring attire are the fashion parade along with a hat to adorn. Both men and women have truly embraced the hat! Sip your juleps as they can pack a punch and it is perfectly acceptable to BRAG about your winnings for the day.
Is there any special etiquette around horse betting?
It is always appreciated when you decide your bets BEFORE you get to the betting window. Long lines are the norm and everyone wants to make sure that they have plenty of time to grab a drink before going back to watch the race.
What are your favorite Derby foods?
It is Spring here in Kentucky; fresh asparagus and bibb lettuce salad are often found as part of the Derby supper. I also love serving country ham and biscuits, as well as fresh, long-stem strawberries.
How can we celebrate this annual event in a covid-safe way?
Take the party outside, if the weather permits. Also, disposable plates and utensils, as well as prepared food that can be easily carried from the buffet. You can still enjoy drinks with your friends at an appropriate distance.
Follow Peggy at peggynoestevens.com.
Shop Chefanie's Derby products here.