The Kentucky Mint Julep has long been the “traditional drink” of Churchill Downs during the most famous two minutes in sports…the Kentucky Derby. Served annually at this event for at least 100 years, mint juleps are extremely popular with visitors and have become a prime part of the Derby experience. The number of drinks made over the two-day period including the Kentucky Oaks and the Derby now tops at well over 100,000.
The cocktail consists of a mixture of bourbon, mint, sugar and water poured over crushed ice, and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. The traditional recipe calls for mint leaves and sugar to be crushed or muddled to release the mint oil and flavor. Other recipes may use mint syrup instead. Bourbon (preferably from a local Kentucky distillery) is then added to the mix, and it is poured over crushed ice. The cocktail is then served in a silver or pewter cup, held by the rim or at the bottom, or alternatively the drink is served in a Collins or high ball glass and garnished with a fresh sprig of mint.
Want to make your own Kentucky mint julep at home? Follow this recipe for the Derby Day Mint Julep.