Strong and sweet, the classic Mint Julep is perfect not only on Derby Day.
I don’t know about you, but I am rather partial to horse raising. As a sport, I don’t think it’s that exciting.
I must admit, the spectacle that usually is taking place around races is something quite different though. Horse races have become places for fashion statements (check it out, you might not even be allowed in if not wearing a hat), playgrounds for families and friends, and many feature their own signature food and drinks, served at restaurants, bars and food stalls at or around the racetracks.
Whether you are an avid lover of horse races or not, there are a few you might have heard about nevertheless as they are hugely famous around the world – and are well worth a trip.
Perhaps the best-known globally is Royal Ascot, taking place in just over a month from today, typically honoured by multiple visits of various members of the British Royal Family.
If you live stateside, however the more important one might be the Kentucky Derby.
First held in 1875 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, it’s usually held on the first Saturday in May and preceded by a two-week long festival. Where you can of course expect a lot of foods and drinks consumed.
Like many big events, the Kentucky Derby has its own signature cocktail too.
Strong and sweet, with only three ingredients (four if you count the crushed ice), the Mint Julep is strongly linked with the Kentucky Derby.
It has been a popular drink in Kentucky from the early days of making bourbon in the state. Thus, it’s quite certain it was consumed at the Derby already long before it became the events official drink in 1939.
Mint Julep is traditionally served in a copper or silver julep cup which allows the drink to keep the optimum temperature as long as possible. Don’t worry if you do not have the classic cups though. Any highball glass will work as well.
While it’s not the classic julep cup, I like to serve mint julep in a mule. Which still comes close to the classic julep cup and also keeps the ideal temperature for longer. Especially as it allows you to hold the cup at the cup holder.
So if like me, you don’t like going to horse races a lot, or you can’t make the trip to the Kentucky Derby for other reasons this year, you can still make a classic mint julep to celebrate – the Derby or just any warm day that calls for an refreshing drink.
Recipe: Classic Mint Julep
5-6 mint leaves
2 sugar cubes (alternatively 15 ml sugar sirup)
75 ml bourbon
Place the mint leaved and sugar canes in a julep cup (or any other glass you are using to serve the mint julep). Gently muddle the leaves and sugar to release the essential oils of the mint.
Add the bourbon then fill the glass with crushed ice almost to the top.
Gently stir until the glass gets frosty.
Top up with more crushed ice.
Garnish with additional mint leaves.