Kentucky Derby® Mint Julep Recipe with Variations

Kentucky Derby® Mint Julep Recipe with Variations

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For the first time since 1945, the Kentucky Derby®  didn’t take place on the first Saturday in May. This year, it’ll take place on Saturday, September 5. 

Even if you’re not attending this historic annual event in person, you can still enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your own home! Grab your Derby hats and practice your scales so you can sing along to “My Old Kentucky Home.” To wet your whistle, make yourself your very own Kentucky Derby®  Mint Julep.

Last year, spectators spotted Mint Juleps going for a whopping $2,500 at Churchill Downs! Fortunately, there’s no need to spend that kind of dough to make a classic Mint Julep right at home. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try a variation or two on the classic Mint Julep. 

Pick up some Woodford Reserve at Cox’s Spirit Shoppe and keep reading to learn all about Mint Juleps!

The Classic Kentucky Derby®  Mint Julep

To make the classic Mint Julep, you’ll need a cocktail muddler and a double old fashioned drink glass (assuming you don’t have the traditional silver cup). You will also need simple syrup, mint leaves and sprigs, and plenty of crushed ice. Finally, you’ll need bourbon, and Woodford Reserve®  is the way to go if you want to stick with the official Kentucky Derby®  recipe!

How to Make Simple Syrup

You can purchase pre-mixed simple syrup, but it’s easy enough to make at home! Note that you’ll want to make your simple syrup in advance so that it’s not warm when you need to use it.

Grab 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, and a medium saucepan.

Combine your ingredients in the saucepan and bring them to a boil. Make sure you stir continuously so that the sugar doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. Once the sugar has dissolved, cut the heat and allow the syrup to cool.

How to Mix Your Mint Julep

Put about 8-10 mint leaves in the bottom of your glass and top it with about 3/4 ounce of simple syrup. Muddle these ingredients so that the mint releases its oil. (If you don’t have a muddler, you can use the handle of a wooden spoon.)

Fill the glass with your crushed ice. You want this drink to be very chilled!

Next, add 2 ounces (or two standard shots) of Woodford Reserve and a splash of water. The water helps take some of the burn out of the bourbon without losing any of the delicious flavors.

Now, all you need to do is give your drink a little stir, garnish it with your mint sprigs, and enjoy! 

How Did Mint Juleps Become the Kentucky Derby®  Signature Drink?

Kentucky has had a long love affair with the Mint Julep. Long before Churchill Downs was founded, you would find the drink served at Kentucky parties and fairs. In fact, in the early 1900s, the silver Mint Julep cups were given as game prizes at county fairs!

1938 marks the first year that the Mint Julep was declared the official drink of the Kentucky Derby® . However, as legend would have it, Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., actually planted mint inside the grounds of Churchill Downs upon its founding in 1875. He knew what the event-goers of Kentucky would want!

It has been almost a century since Mint Juleps were given their official recognition at the Derby, and we all know that they’re here to stay.

Kentucky Derby®  Mint Julep Recipe Variations

Are you looking for a new way to add life to the classic Mint Julep recipe? No harm in that! Let’s take a look at two delicious recipes you can make on September 5th. 

Blackberry Lemon Mint Julep

This recipe calls for a blackberry simple syrup, which requires no saucepan at all. Simply add a cup of sugar to a cup of blackberries (make sure to set some blackberries aside) and allow it to sit for about an hour. Then, use a strainer to separate the liquids from the solids, storing the liquids in your fridge.

Then, place two tablespoons of your blackberry syrup in the bottom of your glass. Pour a tablespoon of lemon juice over the syrup before adding 6 mint leaves to the glass. Lightly muddle the mint into the syrup.

Add two ounces of bourbon to the glass before filling it to the top with crushed ice. Stir the drink before garnishing with a curled lemon peel, a sprig of mint, and two fresh blackberries.

Blood Orange Mint Julep

To make this refreshing citrus twist, you can follow the same simple syrup recipe as listed in the classic recipe but with the added touch of blood orange zest. In addition to the ingredients found in a traditional Mint Julep, you will need blood orange slices and blood orange bitters.

Add 6-8 mint leaves to the bottom of your glass along with two hearty blood orange slices. Gently muddle to release the mint oils and the orange slices’ juice. 

Add 2 ounces of bourbon and a splash of blood orange bitters. Fill the glass to the rim with ice and stir. Garnish with mint sprigs and a thin blood orange slice and enjoy!

Where to Find Quality Spirits in Louisville

The Mint Julep is a long-held tradition of the Kentucky Derby® . Whether you want to stick to the classic recipe or put a spin on it, Cox’s Spirit Shoppe is here to serve up some quality spirits!

Head to our location tracker and enter your zip code to find the location closest to you.

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