Mint Julep: The Signature Kentucky Derby Cocktail

Events / Travel

The Mint Julep is a Kentucky Derby tradition that dates back more than nine decades. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

No Kentucky Derby event is complete without the Mint Julep, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. Before you indulge at Churchill Downs or at a Kentucky Derby watch party near you, here are some quick facts and the recipe for the Mint Julep:

  • The Mint Julep originated in the southern United States and has been promoted by Churchill Downs in association with the Kentucky Derby since 1938.
  • The term ”julep” is usually associated with sweet cocktails. Traditionally, the Mint Julep is made with four ingredients: mint, bourbon, sugar and water.
  • Historically the Mint Julep is served in a silver or pewter cup, but you'll often see the cocktail served in the official Mint Julep glass or tall Old-Fashioned glass.
  • Nearly 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at Churchill Downs during the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Wow!

Ingredients and Recipe:

The Classic Woodford Reserve Mint Julep

  • 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 oz. water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs

Directions: In an official Kentucky Derby glass or old-fashioned glass, muddle the mint, sugar and water together. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add the two ounces of bourbon and stir until the outside of the glass is frosted. Garnish the glass with a mint sprig and straw.

Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Note: If you're making several batches of Mint Juleps for your watch party, it might be easier to make a large serving of simple syrup to save time by boiling water and sugar together for five minutes, then refrigerate.

Be safe and have fun indulging in this fantastic signature Derby cocktail. Cheers!


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