Amy Tobin's Derby Favorites

Jon's Blackberry Bourbon Julep
This recipe comes from Jon Stiles, GM of The Party Source. He does a class series called "Jon's Wine Bar".   This particular session "takes up residence in Kentucky" just in time for the Kentucky Derby.
Yield: Makes 4 juleps
What's Needed:
¼ cups fresh blackberries, plus more for garnish
¼ cup superfine sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 4 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon like Old Forester or Buffalo Trace
1 large bunch of fresh spearmint leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
Shaved or crushed ice
Club soda, chilled
DirectionsMash together the blackberries, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl and let macerate at room temperature until juicy, about 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing against the solids with a spoon or spatula to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the seeds.
Put about 2 tablespoons of the blackberry liquid and 1 tablespoon of the bourbon into a mint julep cup. Add 8 mint leaves and muddle together.
Add shaved ice until the cup is half full. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Pour ¼ cup of the bourbon over the ice, add a splash of club soda and garnish with several sprigs of mint and a couple of whole blackberries. Serve immediately. Repeat for each cocktail.
Yield: Makes 4 juleps
24 mini sandwiches
What's Needed:
24 mini slider buns, sliced in half
½ pound turkey, thinly sliced
½ pound white Cheddar, sliced into small squares
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp, cut into four pieces
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Gravy Mayo (recipe follows)
Gravy Mayo
2.75 ounce packet "country gravy"
1 cup water
2 cups mayonnaise
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Layer the bottom half of each bun with turkey, cheese, bacon and a cherry tomato slice. Top with a dollop of Gravy Mayo. Replace the bun top and secure with a decorative pick.
Gravy Mayo
In a small saucepan combine the water with the gravy packet and stir to smooth lumps; cook until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In small mixing bowl fold the gravy mixture into the mayo. Stir in the Parmesan, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.