Kentucky Derby Delights: Mixing the Perfect Mint Julep

Kentucky Derby Delights: Mixing the Perfect Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby is upon us. Watching the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” just isn’t the same without a delectable mint julep near at hand. Nothing will taste better as you watch Justify, Audible, Magnum Moon and a host of elite thoroughbreds hurtle toward their destiny. But how to make a mint julep that’s sure to impress?

For the discerning drinker, Woodford Reserve is the preferred bourbon used at Churchill Downs, owing perhaps to its status as official sponsor. But Early Times Kentucky Whiskey and Old Forester are among many others lining the estimable shelves of the numberless bars at the Downs. In any case, here’s a mint julep recipe for those looking to spin up some Derby Day libations at home, courtesy of the devoted mixologists at Epicurious:


  • For the Mint Simple Syrup:
    • 15 mint sprigs (1 bunch)
    • 1 cup raw sugar
  • For the cocktail:
    • 3 large fresh mint leaves, plus 3 mint sprigs for garnish
    • 2 cups crushed ice, divided
    • 1 1/2 ounces 100-proof bourbon (such as Four Roses), divided
  • Special equipment:
    • 12-ounce julep cup

Once you’ve prepared your mint juleps in sufficient numbers, pass them out to your friends, raise your nickel, silver, or copper julep cup, and toast, “To the Kentucky Derby, where luck and hope reign supreme.” Happy Derby Day…

More from the “Run for the Roses”: 

Managing the Madness of Derby Week

Hunter S. Thompson’s Gallop Through Churchill Downs