Nothing says Derby Day like a festive hat and a mint julep. Legend states that Kentucky Senator Henry Clay first concocted the mint julep in the 1800’s, but regardless of which mixologist gets the credit, Derby fans have been enjoying this southern cocktail since the first horse races in 1875. This weekend, over 120,000 mint juleps will be enjoyed at Churchill Downs alone, so pop on huge hat and get ready to make your Derby party more festive with this easy mint julep recipe.
- 8 to 10 mint leaves
- 1 Sprig of mint for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon sugar, more or less to taste
- 1 1/2 Ounce water
- 3 Ounce premium Bourbon
- Crushed ice
1: Rinse the mint and place leaves in a silver julep glass or 12 ounce cocktail glass and pour the sugar on top.
2: Muddle the leaves and sugar together with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon.
3: When the leaves and sugar form a wet paste, add water and bourbon and stir with a fork until the sugar dissolves.
4: Top with crushed ice, stir slowly until the outside of the glass becomes frosty.
5: Garnish with a sprig of mint.
A Few Tips for a Better Mint Julep:
- Gently muddle your mint – You want to open up the veins of the mint leaves to release the essential oils, not tear the leaves to bits that get stuck in your teeth.
- Crushed ice is key – Making crushed ice (without a machine) is a great stress reliever. Place ice cubes in a zip-top bag, wrap in a towel and whack the heck out of it until your cubes become fine, crushed ice. (Don’t do this on your counter top, head outside and smash away on your driveway or patio)
- Stir well – Once you have the drink built, take the time to stir it gently until the glass gets frosty.
- Choose your bourbon wisely– Since bourbon is the only liquid in the drink, this is not the time to cheap out. Early Times is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but you can also use any bourbon you enjoy.