Celebrate Derby Days with a Handcrafted Mint Julep

Celebrate Derby Days with a Handcrafted Mint Julep

By Mary Rich Hill of Spirit Savvy, “Crafted Cocktail Events”

Other than elaborate sun hats, seersucker suits, and hot browns, the Mint Julep is an essential accessory for Derby Day on May 3. Since 1938, the Mint Julep, now served with Woodford Reserve, has been promoted by Churchill Downs as the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby.

Early Times, a brand of Kentucky whiskey also owned by Woodford Reserve’s parent company Brown-Forman Corporation, was actually the first whiskey to be served and is still served in the more moderately priced Juleps at the Derby.

Making Mint Juleps at Home
Mint Juleps are fairly simple in their ingredients: bourbon, sugar, mint, and water. However, there are ways to make it extra special and refreshing.

The day before, I like to make a concentrated mint simple syrup. Begin by taking a big handful of spearmint. Bruise the leaves to release the aromatics. Cover the mint with about 3 ounces of bourbon, and let it think about what it’s done for about an hour. Add the simple sugar, and let it steep overnight.

When you are ready to make the cocktail, fill your 10-ounce pewter cup with crushed or shaved ice. Add 1 1/2-2 ounces of bourbon, then add the mint simple syrup to taste.

Take a nice-looking mint sprig and give it a little smack between your palms to release more aromatics and stick it in the glass. Hold your pewter cup only at the top or the bottom so a nice layer of frost can coat the outside of the drink. This will help to keep it cool on those hot Kentucky spring days. Enjoy!

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