Can you say “100,000+ mint juleps?” Yes, that’s how many will be served during the Kentucky Derby. Since 1938, this unique American cocktail has been the official cocktail of the Derby, which began serving the drink in souvenir cups during race weekend.
What exactly is a “julep” you may ask? Well, a proper mint julep has four ingredients: Bourbon, sugar, ice, and of course, mint customarily served in a cup made of silver, pewter or another metal. This bourbon-based cocktail may be associated with the South where it originated, but it’s popular in bars throughout America.
What makes a good “julep?” Very simple, the Bourbon. While a mint julep only consists of four ingredients, the taste and quality of the bourbon is crucial. Many will say it’s only right that you use a Kentucky bourbon, but the reality is you can use a bourbon of your choice. In fact, cognac, brandy, and whiskey are all great options depending on the recipe.
Did you know? For over ten years, Churchill Downs has served extra-premium custom-made $1,000 mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby made from Woodford Reserve bourbon. The mint is imported from Ireland, the sugar from Australia, and spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps. The drink is served in a gold-plated cup with a silver straw. The net proceeds from last year’s event benefited The Kentucky Derby Museum.
Whichever way you choose to make and enjoy your juleps is entirely up to you. We would like to offer three of our favorite recipes for your consideration as you get ready for the Kentucky Derby. Happy drinking!
The Bulleit Mint Julep
– 1 1/3 oz. Bulleit® Bourbon (or Bulleit® Rye for a different twist)
– 1 tsp. Sugar
– 5-6 Mint leaves
– Crushed ice
– Julep cups or rocks glasses
Muddle mint leaves, sugar, and a splash of water in a julep cup or rocks glass. Add Bulleit Bourbon, water, and fill cup with crushed ice (10-20% above rim of cup, like a snow cone) and stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, add a small drinking straw, and serve with a napkin.
Bulleit Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey subtlety and complexity come from its unique blend of rye, corn, and barley malt. It’s bold, spicy character and distinctively clean, smooth taste, is derived from strains of yeast and pure Kentucky limestone-filtered water.
Georgia Mint Julep French Twist
– 2 oz. Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Cognac
– .25 oz. Apricot Brandy
– .25 oz. Heavy simple syrup (2:1)
– 8 tender mint sprigs (slim stems)
– Garnish: Mint Sprig, sprinkled powdered sugar
– Glass: Julep Cup
Place 8 mint sprigs in the bottom of the julep cup, add the liquids, now fill halfway with crushed ice, stir to combine and chill, and top with more crushed ice to just above the rim of the glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and a small dusting of powdered sugar on top.
Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Cognac is the world’s first and favorite V.S.O.P Cognac. A blend of over 60 eaux-de-vie it offers a natural balance of strength and smoothness with a long-lasting finish. Why Cognac? Before the Civil War made foreign products like Cognac hard to come by in the South, Mint Juleps were supposedly made with the French spirit.
How Sweet It Is Blueberry Mint Juleps
– 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon of choice (recommended Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Whiskey)
– 1 ounce mint simple syrup
– 1 ounce mint blueberry puree
– Crushed ice
– Fresh mint leaves
Directions via How Sweet It Is:
Combine bourbon, mint simple syrup (1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1 bunch of mint leaves) and mint blueberry puree (2/3 cup fresh blueberries and 2 tablespoons mint simple syrup) together and shake or stir well. Pour over crushed ice and serve with extra mint leaves.
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Whiskey is aged for four years and bottled at 80 proof in new charred oak barrels for an elegant, smooth and refined taste.