By the end of today, nearly 120,000 mint juleps will flow down the hatches of spectators at the Kentucky Derby. That’s a lot of julep, especially when you consider the Bourbon factor. One drink gets 2 ounces, so we’re talking almost 2,000 gallons of Kentucky Bourbon at Churchill Downs alone. Might be time to buy stock in good ol’ Jim. And to taste and see…
But before I attempt an edible (or drinkable) discovery, I usually seek the history first. It appears from a variety of highly reputable internet sources (basically I asked Google) that the julep – with its mint and sugar water – was born out of necessity as a way to ease the burn of early American Bourbon. Apparently, the stuff was pretty offensive.
Not anymore. Now Jim Beam, and his friends along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, are long-aged in wood barrels and appreciated for their finer nuances. But even still, the mint julep is as popular as ever, especially on Derby day. So if you’re out for a celebratory Saturday (horse races or not), here are the requirements:
- 1 fluid ounce mint simple syrup (2 tablespoons)
- 2 fluid ounces Kentucky Bourbon (Jim Beam, Early Times or Bulleit recommended)
- Fresh mint leaves and 3 full sprigs
- Crushed ice
To make mint simple syrup bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, add 3 sprigs of mint off the heat and let steep for an hour. Remove mint and chill. Fill a glass with crushed ice, pour in mint syrup and Bourbon, and garnish with fresh mint leaves (for a virgin drink try club soda or sparkling water).
If you really want an authentic experience you sip from the signature silver goblet. But 2 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon is 2 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon, silver cup or not. So cheers to “The Run for the Roses”, and let’s go I’ll Have Another!