The Mint Julep: Grab Some Bourbon for a Great Kentucky Derby Day CocktailBy Stephanie Moreno
May might bring spring flowers, but it also brings us The Run for the Roses. Also known as the Kentucky Derby, this annual horse race is held the first Saturday in May in Louisville at the historic Churchill Downs. The race is the first leg in the Triple Crown and is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875.
Tradition for the Kentucky Derby involves Mint Juleps and extravagant hats, along with wearing your Sunday best. Naturally, Kentucky bourbon is also a huge part of the event, second only to the horses themselves. So while you’re out shopping for your new duds, why not pick up a bottle of something special for the traditional cocktail?
A Mint Julep is a muddled cocktail and you really want the bourbon to make an impression. Our recommendation is to use at least a 90 proof bourbon as the drink can quickly become watered down in the heat of the day. Even better is to use a bottled in bond bourbon which clocks in at 100 proof.
You can go all out and choose Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald BIB Decanter Series or dial it back a bit and choose a workhorse like Jim Beam’s Old Grand-Dad. We’ve got a few more suggestions for you here.
Whichever bourbon you choose our recipe below is sure to be a winner — even if your bets are not.
Mint Julep Recipe:
– 8-10 mint leaves
– 1 tsp superfine sugar or ½ oz simple syrup
– 2 ½ oz bourbon
– Crushed ice
Place mint leaves in the bottom of your drinking glass (if you have a silver mint julep cup or a double Old Fashioned glass, great! But a Collins glass will also work). Add sugar and gently muddle. Next, add bourbon and crushed ice to the glass. Stir gently until the glass chills. Then add more ice to the mound on top. Place a couple of mint sprigs on top for garnish. Serve with a short straw or julep spoon straw.
Since it’s the Kentucky Derby after all, we suggest you use a Kentucky bourbon in your Mint Julep on this occasion. If it’s not Derby week, feel free to use bourbon made outside of Kentucky. You can also swap out the bourbon for brandy if you’re so inclined.
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