Mint Julep Recipe: How To Make The Kentucky Derby’s Famous Drink

Since 1938, the mint julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Out of all the traditions the race has had in its storied history, mint juleps are a clear favorite among fans and spectators. Hundreds of thousands of them are sold during Kentucky Derby weekend every year. And whether you are at a watch party or in the Churchill Downs infield, a mint julep is the perfect cocktail to drink on Derby Day.

A mint julep is very easy to make and consists of four key ingredients: bourbon, mint, sugar and water. The drink is typically served in a silver cup or pewter cup to complete its classy look. And given that 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky, mint juleps are a perfect representation of horse racing and the Bluegrass State.

So, how do you make a mint julep? There are many different recipes, and you can certainly add your own flare to one if you prefer. A basic recipe starts with packing ¾ of a cup with crushed ice. Then in a mixing glass, stir one teaspoon of sugar and ¼ cup of water until the sugar is dissolved. Then pour ¼ cup of your choice of bourbon into the mixed sugar water. Add 6-10 loose mint leaves or 1 ounce of mint syrup. Bring it all together by transferring the mix into the cup packed with ice. You can finish off the look by garnishing a sprig of mint and rose petal, and it’s best to sip with a straw to better mix the sugar and mint. Here is a video to help you learn how to make a mint julep.

But if you’re at Churchill Downs, how much does a mint julep actually cost? The majority of mint juleps you can find in the concessions are around $10. But if you are looking to be lavish, Kentucky bourbon distillery Woodford Reserve has $1,000 and $2,500 mint juleps served in limited-edition cups. Every year a jeweler designs the cups with different horse racing elements. In previous years, the cups have been silver- and gold-plated and featured prominent architecture from Churchill Downs such as the Twin Spires. All the proceeds from these luxury versions are donated to a different charity fund each year. This year’s cups will celebrate black jockeys and proceeds will be donated to Project to Protect African-American Turf History.

Photo Credit: Google Common Creative Licenses, Strasburg Rail Road Twitter

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