To commemorate the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, I asked our restaurants team to show me the way to a great mint julep recipe. They left me in the capable hands of Dan Yeisley, the manager at our newest bar, Habitant. Digging up recipes from way back in the 18th and 19th centuries, he resurrected an old twist for this classic cocktail: gin.

Not to upset the entire state of Tennessee and bourbon lovers everywhere, he explained that the earliest recipes on record call for any variety of liquors–most often Cognac, brandy, gin or whiskey. After seeing that one of them also called for peach-flavored liqueur, he knew he’d found a winning combo.

Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe with Gin and Peach Liqueur from Nordstrom; photo by Jeff Powell.

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Daniel Drewes, one of our online buyers, recommended six of his favorite top-shelf, small-batch beers for Labor Day weekend—all of which come in handy aluminum cans.

Once a sure sign of low-brow beers (no disrespect, cheap beer holds a place in our heart too), cans are suddenly a fast-growing movement in the craft brewing industry, which has traditionally stuck to bottles. Now, with options like the six below, even brew connoisseurs like Daniel can grip an all-American aluminum can with confidence.

Best part? They’re practical. The thin metal blocks light better than glass, gets colder faster in a cooler, and eliminates the risk of broken glass when things get rowdy (and isn’t that the goal?) at your barbecue, campsite or tailgate party.


1. New Belgium ‘Shift’ Pale Lager. “My new favorite session beer [lower alcohol volume]. Some good hop flavor, but a nice day-drinker to round out summer and start fall tailgates.”


2. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. “One of the most widely distributed craft beers—it’s my old standby when I’m at a bar that doesn’t have a more diverse selection. I love a good hop flavor, and this one’s mild enough to be a good session ale.”


3. Fort George ‘Sunrise’ OPA. “Fort George is a great new brewery out of Astoria, Oregon. They make a great oatmeal pale—the oatmeal gives it a nice creaminess for a pale ale, while it still has good hop aroma and bitterness.”


4. Oskar Blues ‘Old Chub’ Scotch Ale. “This Colorado brewery makes great canned beer. Old Chub is a sweet, caramel-y scotch ale with a big malt punch, perfect when you feel like rich flavor that’s not dominated by hop bitterness.”


5. Fort George ‘Vortex’ IPA: “A great Indian pale ale with generous hop flavor and a nice note of grapefruit. Perfect for hopheads (like me), who like their beer brutal in bitterness.”


6. Sixpoint ‘Sweet Action.’ “This Brooklyn brewery says it best on their website: ‘The original Sixpoint style—hard to define, but perhaps that’s why people love it. Part pale ale, part wheat, part cream ale—all Sweet Action.'”


[Photos courtesy of New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Fort George, Oskar Blues, and Sixpoint breweries.]