John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Derby Day

If I had a horse running today in the Kentucky Derby, I’d name it Hapax Legomenon and spend the race chuckling at the announcer’s pronunciations.

But I can’t commemorate the Derby appropriately because I’ll be at Memorial Episcopal Church gussying myself up as Franklin Roosevelt for tonight’s performance of Annie.

Since you’re on your own for the Derby, some advice:

Make yourself a mint julep. A julep, I must caution you, is not some genteel lady’s drink or one of those candied concoctions that the unsophisticated young mistake for cocktails these days. A julep is a drink for serious topers.

Step one: Go outside and cut a handful of mint leaves.

Step two: In a silver cup or a squat glass with a good solid bottom, mix a little sugar — a teaspoon should be plenty — with just enough water to dissolve it.

Step three: Muddle the mint, crushing it in the sugared water. A miniature Louisville Slugger bat is very good for this. I had one from the ACES conference in Lousiville* in 2002, but it has gone astray. You may need to improvise with some other implement.

Step four: Fill the glass with cracked ice. Do not use crushed ice, which will melt too fast, or ice cubes, which will melt too slowly. Cracked ice.

Step five: Cover the ice with good bourbon. Old Forester will do; Maker’s Mark is better. If you’re flush, Woodford Reserve or one of the small batch bourbons will do nicely. On no account should you use any Tennessee whiskey.  Garnish with a mint leaf or two.

Step six: Sip.

Step seven: Shut your mouth and stand respectfully while the band plays “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Step eight: Mix another. From this point it’s just a bunch of horses running around.



*That’s LOO-uh-vul.