While some of you may not share the excited, giddy, Christmas-morning feeling towards the Kentucky Derby as I do, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely should! Granted, I may be a tad biased having grown up in Louisville my entire life, but it’s such an absolutely amazing and wonderful event with people from all over the country in attendance.
I have taken a small breather from attending for the last three years (which might sound crazy to some, but you try going to an event with such fanfare and partying 8 years in a row without a break!) and now I’m so ready to get back down there next weekend!
There are an endless supply of traditions that accompany the Derby, but by far one of the most famous and time-honored is the delicious and refreshing Mint Julep cocktail. Be warned – this is a drink with Bourbon (obviously…given that it originates in Kentucky) and it comes with a kick!
One small request if you decide to give it a try: I urge you to make it yourself instead of ordering one in a bar on Derby Day. I obviously can’t make a blanket statement about every single bar in America, but I have tasted some truly disgraceful excuses for Mint Juleps in these last few years and they are just not being made correctly!
In case you’re hoping to celebrate (aka have an excuse to wear a cute dress, possibly a hat, and spend some time in the sun cheering on a horse) I thought I’d share the TRUE Kentucky way to fix up a batch of Mint Juleps for you and your friends – and score some major hostess points in the process!
The first thing you’ll need is a proper Mint Julep cup. These can run a little pricey, but I’ve managed to track an affordable one down. It’s important to have because you’ll need to stick them in the freezer prior to using so they maintain that perfectly-chilled temperature (and keep the ice from melting too fast!)
What You’ll Need:
- Crushed Ice
- Several Sprigs of Fresh Mint (You’ll need them both for taste and for garnish)
- 1 1/2 parts Bourbon (up to your discretion which kind, but Maker’s Mark works just fine!)
- 2 cups sugar (you can also substitute simply syrup)
- 2 cups water
- Put Mint Julep cups in the fridge overnight beforehand, or in the freezer a few hours before using to keep them chilled.
- Either use a pre-made simple syrup (unflavored) or combine the sugar and water together and boil for five minutes while stirring. Combine either syrup or sugar/water in a covered container with 6-8 fresh sprigs of mint and leave overnight in the fridge.
- Fill julep cup with crushed ice
- Pour 1 tbsp. of mint syrup on top of ice
- Add 2.5 oz of the Bourbon of your choice
- Stir rapidly to chill the drink, add a sprig of mint as garnish and enjoy!
It really is such a simple drink and the epitome of any true Derby celebration, so stock up on those supplies and get pouring!