The Kentucky Derby is known as the most exciting two minutes in sports but that undersells the hours leading up to the starting bugle, the loud fashion choices and the Derby’s real must-have accessory: the mint julep.
The julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby for more than eight decades and in that time it has become one of the major drivers of the debauchery both at the Derby itself and at parties all over the country.
It is, in many ways, the perfect encapsulation of a more relaxed southern culture. The crushed ice melts slowly into the strong drink, which allows for extra-long sipping time—whether you’re downing drinks on the Derby infield or just hanging on your porch.
So as you get ready to place your bets for Saturday, mix up some mint Juleps and settle in. Here’s how:
How to Make a Mint Julep
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
Handful of Mint Leaves
3 oz. Bourbon
- Muddle the mint and simple syrup in a glass.
- Add crushed ice, almost to the top.
- Pour bourbon over the top and stir a few times.
Some tips to remember when you’re making Juleps as you watch the parade of ostentatious hats:
This isn’t a shaken drink! Build the whole thing in the cup you’re going to drink from.
You can’t take the ice straight from your freezer. You need to have crushed ice. Cubes won’t cut it. Either pulse your ice in the blender or use a Lewis bag (or strong bag) and whack the ice cubes with a hammer.
Get yourself a good bottle of bourbon. A drink is only as good as its ingredients, so some plastic, $8 bottle really won’t cut it. You don’t have to drop a fortune on it, but try something like Four Roses small batch (~$35), Woodford Reserve ($38) or even a bottle of Evan Williams White Lable ($18) will work.