Once April rolls around in Louisville, thoughts turn to the Kentucky Derby and that means something other than just horse racing to the true blue Kentuckian: Mint Juleps, of course.
The Mint Julep is not only a fine Southern tradition, originating in the South during the 18th Century, it’s also been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938. Today, more than 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at Churchill Downs over Derby weekend at the track. So the drink’s come a long way since Kentucky’s own Henry Clay, while a U.S. Senator, introduced the Mint Julep to Washington, DC at the famous Willard Hotel.
April is officially, “Mint Julep Month” in Louisville. So let’s get this festive occasion off to a refreshing start. Below, you'll find a list of local bars and restaurants that are toasting to this special month by offerring various drinks, desserts and more:
8UP at Hilton Garden Inn Downtown: Blackberry Julep (featuring Maker’s 46, house made blackberry puree and fresh mint).
The Bakery at Sullivan University: Mint Julep Cupcake (Bourbon chocolate cake with mint icing) and Mint Julep Cream Pie (Chocolate Bourbon pastry cream with chocolate curls, fresh mint and mint whipped cream).
Block Party Handmade Boutique (downtown location) is carrying a variety of Mint Julep themed products, including ornaments, candles and lip balm.
Bourbon Barrel Foods is offering a 25 percent discount on its Mint Julep Sugar. The retail store (2710 Frankfort Ave.) also carries items to make and serve your own Mint Julep, including a mallet for crushing ice, an ice bag, julep strainer and julep cups (available in both copper and silver).
Bourbon Raw: Strawberry Mint Julep Lemonade.
Bristol Bar & Grille (Downtown location) – Three Mint Juleps on special: Garden Julep (Muddled fresh herbs of rosemary, mint and basil with Buffalo Trace and Drambuie); Royal Julep (Evan Williams Bottled in Bond and Benedictine with muddled fresh mint and simple syrup); and the Ginger Julep Martini (Basil Hayden with a touch of white Crème de Menthe and ginger infused simple syrup).
The Brown Hotel’s English Grill is offering a salad a dessert special. The Mint Julep Garden (spring picked artisan lettuces topped with Kenny’s Blue Cheese, house smoked walnuts, sundried cherries and Mint Julep vinaigrette) and a Mint Julep sorbet shooter with chocolate tuile.
Chateau Bourbon B&B is selling Mint Julep Cupcakes (available for pre-order by the dozen). Also, they are hosting “Fillies & Fun” (a Derby-themed ladies night) on April 9 from 5 to 8 p.m. Highlights of the event include a Derby hat and fascinator sale, a Bourbon tasting and a craft-your-own Mint Julep station.
Copper & Kings: Brandy Mint Julep. (Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy, rum, Yellow Chartreuse, mint sprigs, water and powdered sugar. Garnish with mint).
Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar: Mint Julep Lemonade (Henry McKenna Single Barrel, simple syrup, lemon juice and mint).
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be offering Peach Julep samples every Thursday in April. Also, Evan Williams Mint Julep Mix and julep cups are for sale in the retail shop.
Haymarket Whiskey Bar: Tiki Julep (featuring Elijah Craig, a house passion fruit base, Cointreau, lime and mint simple syrup).
Louisville Stoneware: Mint Julep cup featuring a hand painted recipe.
The Louisville Visitor Center carries a variety of Mint Julep products, including soap, lip balm, wooden coasters, a decorative horseshoe, julep cups and a note card set.
Marketplace Restaurant: Marketplace Blackberry Mint Julep (Maker’s Mark, blackberries, mint leaves, simple syrup and a splash of water) and the Theater Square Mint Julep (Maker’s Mark, powdered sugar, water and mint leaves).
Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen: Classic Mint Julep featuring Maker’s Mark.
Moss Hill Bath & Body Collection sells a variety of Mint Julep scented bath and beauty products, including lotion, soap and candles.
River House Restaurant and Raw Bar and Levee at the River House: Mint Juliet (made with brown sugar and maple syrup).
Sidebar at Whiskey Row: Dad’s Julep (a chocolate julep with a chartreuse twist featuring Elijah Craig, crème de cacao, Green Chartreuse and Regan’s Orange Bitters.
Varanese: Strawberry-Jalapeno Mint Julep.
Vint: Vint Julep (a latte featuring Bourbon Barrel Foods Smoked Sugar and Mint Julep Sugar and peppermint syrup).