A trip to the Kentucky Derby wouldn’t be complete without sipping on the official drink of the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports – aka the Mint Julep
The concoction of four simple ingredients (bourbon, mint, sugar and water) has been a first-Saturday-in-May tradition since 1938. More than 120,000 Mint Juleps are served every year during the weekend of the Run for the Roses.The rose connection runs deep as historians trace the history of the julep to the Arabic word “julab” which was a drink made with rose petals. As Virginians in the American South replaced rose petals with mint leaves and added whiskey during the 18th century, the “julep” became a favorite morning drink. (Kentucky was once part of Virginia).
Due to the popularity of giving energy to early risers, some link the drink to horse trainers which may have eventually led to its adoption as the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
And it was Kentucky’s Henry Clay who introduced the iconic libation to Washington, D.C., at the famous Willard Hotel while living in the city as a U.S. senator.
In addition to being available at Churchill Downs in a special souvenir glass during meets and the Kentucky Derby Museum Café all year, another sure bet to get a proper Mint Julep is at Urban Bourbon Trail stop, The Brown Hotel Lobby Bar.
Most all Louisville bars that make a mint julep use Kentucky Colonel Mint and every good Louisville host typically has a little growing in a garden or window-sill pot.
During the month of April, Louisville celebrates Mint Julep Month with special promotions, cocktail classes, and treats from mint julep crème brulee to cupcakes and special ice cream flavors.
Want to play bartender yourself? Here’s all you need:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Silver Julep Cups
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one Julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Kentucky Bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Optional, but preferred by Kentuckians: dust with powdered sugar.
Learn more about the history of the Mint Julep, places to try the Derby City’s famous cocktail and much more on our Lookin’ at Lou Podcast: http://lou.ly/283