The Mint Julep is a classic cocktail for a reason. It is light, refreshing, and crisp – perfect for any spring or summer day. The Mint Julep is also a Kentucky Derby classic. So, put on your hats because we are in for a wild ride!
The Kentucky Derby and the Mint Julep go together like Beyoncé and Jay-Z – it is hard to imagine one without the other. But how did this sporting event and cocktail become so closely intertwined with each other?
Well, according to CNN, farmers in Virginia were the first to begin drinking this classic as early as the 1800s. The drink made its debut at the horseraces shortly after, in the 1820s, as sterling silver julep cups were gifted to the jockeys who stole the show. Chris Goodlett of the Kentucky Derby Museum notes that “the first bit of famous Derby julep lore occurred in 1877 when the event welcomed a celebrity visitor: the famous Polish actress Helena Modjeska. As legend has it, Clark toasted to Helena as she was passed a very large mint julep meant for sharing with a group. Helena liked it so much she kept it for herself and ordered another.”
This was the tip of the iceberg that made mint juleps a staple at the races and eventually led to the Mint Julep being named the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1939.
Raise a glass to history and horses with this recipe!
The Classic Mint JulepCourse: DrinksCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
A classic cocktail recipe: The Mint Julep – It’s a classic for a reason.
- For the Cocktail:
10-12 mint leaves
¼ oz. Turbinado Syrup
2 oz. bourbon
Mint sprig and powdered sugar, for garnish
- For the Turbinado Syrup:
Raw, unrefined sugar
- Turbinado Syrup:
- Heat two parts sugar to one part water in a saucepan over medium heat until dissolved.
- Remove from heat and chill.
- Mint Julep:
- Add the mint leaves and the turbinado syrup to a glass. Lightly muddle.
- Add the bourbons and fill ¾ of the cup with crushed ice. Stir 10–12 times with a bar spoon to dilute.
- Once diluted, remove spoon, add a straw and top off your cocktail with a small dome of crushed ice.
- Garnish with a mint sprig and a dust of powdered sugar.