Happy Derby Day! I've donned my favorite Lilly shift in honor of tonight's festivities. Today, I'm sharing my recipe for a classic mint julep, which is a combination of bourbon, mint, sugar, and crushed ice, traditionally served in a silver cup.
A Brief Julep History: Mint juleps have a long and storied history. According to Town & Country, mint juleps were introduced as medicinal drinks for the purpose of settling the stomach. In the late 1700s, juleps gained popularity in the South. This was a decidedly elitist drink as most people did not have access to ice (or the silver cup in which juleps are served). The mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1983. In addition to being the Derby’s signature drink, juleps have been favorited by several historical figures. Margaret Mitchell mentions the drink in her iconic book Gone with the Wind. Theodore Roosevelt purportedly used juleps to entice his cabinet members to play tennis with him (can you imagine playing tennis after drinking bourbon? I certainly can’t.). Author F. Scott Fitzgerald places the cocktail in the hotel scene argument between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan in the cult classic The Great Gatsby. An icy cold julep is refreshing on any occasion, but is especially festive when watching the Kentucky Derby.
Hot Tip: If you're making drinks for a crowd, make ahead a batch of simple syrup (2 parts water, 1 part sugar). Add 1 oz simple syrup to each glass in place of the water and sugar.
I recently dined at the Garden & Gun Club in Atlanta. I ordered a mint julep, which was made with Blade and Bow bourbon whiskey. It was delicious and I ended up purchasing a bottle. (If I'm being honest, also took the adorable branding into account when purchasing.) If you like bourbon you should definitely try it!
Thanks for reading!