I used to live in New Albany, (where the tourism bureaus of Clark and Floyd counties still refer to the area as “The Sunny Side of Louisville”), and I worked in downtown Louisville. This gave me the somewhat unique opportunity to write the preceding 45 words, thus knocking off the toughest paragraph of any column, the first one.
Working in Loovll (honestly, you MUST pronounce it in just one syllable to have ANY hope of being accepted by the natives) also gave me the opportunity to experience the dazing fun and frivolity leading up to The Kentucky Derby.
This of course includes sippin’ a mint julep, admirin’ ladies wearing spectacularly gaudy headwear, and mockin’ men sporting nauseatingly gaudy sport coats. I purchased one such alarmingly multi-colored jacket back in those days in order to blend into the Derby scene, and much to my wife’s chagrin, she has never been able – and will never be able – to sneak it out of the closet and into the pile of stuff going to Goodwill.
I’m wearing it right now, in fact, to help set the mood for the following compendium of Kentucky Derby Trivia – factoids you can recite to your friends and family on Derby Day, perhaps multiple times without them remembering, if you serve strong enough mint juleps.
What IS a julep anyway? “Julep” is a word meaning “sweet drink,” and indeed, the juleps I recall were rill swite (that’s the Loovll way of pronouncing “real sweet”). But not as swite, perhaps, as a special version being marketed to this year’s Derby-goers; besides the bourbon, they’ll contain hand-crafted ingredients with a rose theme, including rosewater and muddled rose petals, all presented inside a box made from bourbon barrel staves and lined with luxurious fabric. Oh, and they’re served in a custom-engraved, gold-plated cup. Cost: $1,000.