Culture

Mint Juleps: How to Make Cocktails for the Kentucky Derby

Sat., May. 5, 2012 12:22 PM EDT
by Rachael Mason

The mint julep is a classic Southern cocktail that is traditionally served during the Kentucky Derby.

If you’re searching for mint julep recipes, you might find that some instructions require preparing the drinks 24 hours in advance. Since the race begins this afternoon, there’s not quite time to do that. But don’t panic—you can still make great mint juleps. The cocktail contains three basic ingredients: bourbon, mint and sugar.

In 2012, Woodford Reserve (the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, if you’re wondering) teamed up with Tiffany & Co. to create an extremely exclusive version of the drink (pictured). The $1,000 drink was made with Woodford Reserve premium bourbon, lemon mint grown in California, bourbon mint julep sugar, bourbon vanilla sugar and ice from both Versailles, Ky., and from near Versailles, France. Sold in a limited-edition of 65, the drink included a silver julep cup from Tiffany’s and proceeds benefited horse-related charities.

If that’s a little too rich for your tastes, we found a great everyday recipe from Esquire’s David Wondrich. –rachael mason

Recipe: Mint Julep

Ingredients: Mint, 1 teaspoon sugar, 3 ounces bourbon
Glass: Old-fashioned glas

Instructions: Place 5 or 6 leaves of mint in the bottom of a prechilled, dry 12-ounce glass or silver beaker. Add sugar and crush slightly with a muddler. Pack glass with finely cracked ice. Pour a generous 3 ounces of Kentucky bourbon over the ice. Stir briskly until the glass frosts. Add more ice and stir again before serving. Stick a few sprigs of mint into the ice so that the partaker will get the aroma.

Still not enough mint flavor? Try this: For each julep, lightly cover about 10 sprigs of mint with superfine sugar, add an ounce of spring water, macerate, let stand for 10-15 minutes, and strain through a fine sieve into the ice-filled glass. Then add whiskey and proceed as above. If you’ll stoop to maceration, you might also want to float 1/2 ounce of dark Jamaica rum on top.

Click here to read more of Wondrich’s mint julep advice.

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