Haskell Weekend is finally here, and whether you're braving the crowds to see American Pharoah at Monmouth Park or will be watching the festivities in the air-conditioned comfort of home, why not enjoy a festive cocktail to set the mood?

When you think of horse races and cocktails, there's one classic that comes to mind: the mint julep, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.

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Since the Haskell is Jersey's answer to the Derby, let's serve up a Jersey Julep!

Jersey is not only home to the 'Blueberry Capital of the World," Hammonton, but also America's oldest distillery - Laird & Co. in Scobeyville (Colts Neck)!

We're combining them in one deliciously Jersey drink!

Ingredients:

3 oz. Laird's Applejack
2 oz. blueberry simple syrup (recipe below)
fresh mint leaves
fresh mint sprigs
crushed ice (No exceptions -- cubes won't do!)

Blueberry simple syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbls. water
1/2 cup fresh Jersey blueberries

To make the blueberry syrup, gently heat the sugar, water, and blueberries just until the sugar melts and the berries cook down a bit. Pour the syrup through a fine strainer, using a spatula to push the mixture through and really get all the juice out of the berries, while keeping the straw-clogging clumps away! Let the syrup cool.

Now let's make the Julep!

Gently muddle a few fresh mint leaves with an ounce of the cooled blueberry syrup in a glass -- obviously a silver julep cup is best, if you have it! Add a bit of the crushed ice, then the Applejack and stir. Then pack the glass with more crushed ice, stir again, and top with a few fresh mint sprigs and a straw!

Juleps are really meant to be sipped slowly, but you may find yourself drinking these especially fast! Enjoy!

*Please drink responsibly.*