By the end of a typical DERBY DAY! 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 inebriating spectators at Churchill Downs alone. Might be time to buy stock in good ol' Jim. And to taste and see the original mint julep recipe.
But before we drink, please allow me a moment to geek out. 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 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:
The makings of a mint julep
- 1 fluid ounce/2 tablespoons/single shot mint simple syrup (recipe below)
- 2 fluid ounces/double shot Kentucky Bourbon (Jim Beam, Early Times, Buffalo Trace, or Bulleit recommended)
- Fresh mint leaves and 3 full sprigs
- Crushed ice
If you don't have an ice maker that spits out crushed ice, but you do have a food processor, give ice cubes a quick whirl and you'll be drinking a legit julep before you know it. It's helpful if you have time to freeze the blade and bowl first.
Now to make the mint julep
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 a silver goblet. For more step-by-step tips on shaking up a serious julep, check this out. But no matter how you get there, two ounces of Kentucky Bourbon is two ounces of Kentucky Bourbon.
So cheers to The Run for the Roses, and let's go Authentic!
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, julep drinking will commence on September 5th. For more specifics check out the ever-ticking Kentucky Derby Countdown!Print
Flavoring simple syrups AKA sugar+water+brief boil, is a great way to add flavor to not cocktails, teas and desserts.
2 or 3 sprigs of mint
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and add the mint, and let steep for an hour or so.
- Remove the mint and store the syrup chilled for a couple of weeks.
Flavor ideas! Switch out mint for any citrus peel, a few smashed cubes of fresh ginger or even whole spices like cinnamon sticks and whole star anise.