Derby Saturday was, and is, always a special day in my house. Being the first weekend in May, we are usually blessed with beautiful weather. A day spent outside, working in our own barn under the sun, and at just about five o’clock we tromp back into the coolness of the house, and get ready for the race.
We love the exposées on the trainers, and the owners, and the jockeys, but the horses are the stars. I can count on my fingers the number of American traditions I’ve embraced and am culturally proud of, and the Kentucky Derby is high on that list. This year marks the 138th Run for the Roses, making the Derby the longest running american sporting event.
The Mint Julep was first promoted by Churchill Downs in relation to the Derby in 1938. A drink long associated with the American south, a proper julep is made with just four ingredients: sugar, water, spearmint, and Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Churchill Downs serves almost 120,000 mint juleps during the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, most served in a commemorative glass.
Serves 8 spectators.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped mint (spearmint if you’re being traditional)
- 32 oz. Kentucky bourbon of your choice
- mint sprigs for garnish
In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, and chopped mint. Bring to a gentle boil, allowing all the sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat and allow to cool for an hour. Strain syrup and refrigerate.
To serve, fill a julep cup or other glass with crushed ice, and pour 4 oz. of bourbon, and 1/4 cup syrup in each. Top with a mint sprig and straw and serve at post-time!