The Mint Julep has been the official drink for the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. How did this drink consisting of mint, sugar, and bourbon achieve such fame?
History of the Julep
“Julep” comes from the Persian for “rose water”. It describes a sweet drink used to mask the taste of medicine. Truth be told, mint juleps were the original energizing morning drink! Horse trainers who woke up early would prepare the drink to help face the day. Eventually, the julep started showing up at horse races. In 1938, Churchill Downs started charging twenty-five cents once they noticed the mint julep glasses disappearing. Those cups are the leading Kentucky Derby collectible. It is tradition for the Kentucky Governor to use the mint julep sterling silver glass to toast the winning Derby owner.
KentuckyDerby.com explains that during the Kentucky Derby, 120,000 mint juleps are served over the two-day period. That’s eighty tons of shaved ice and 2,200 pounds of fresh mint! Since 2006, one has the option of purchasing a custom-made mint julep served in a gold-plated cup with a silver straw for $1,000! Proceeds from this extra-premium drink go to care for retired race horses.
Mint Julep Recipe
Here at Oscar’s you can find a similar, more moderately priced, premium drink. If you are watching The Derby at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, come into Oscar’s Steakhouse for a perfectly muddled mint julep using Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of The Kentucky Derby! We also enjoy the mint julep mixed with Blanton’s Bourbon because of the festive bottle pictured below.
Or make your own with the following recipe:
- 10 Mint Leaves
- ¼ oz Simple Syrup
- Crushed Ice
- 2 oz Woodford Reserve or Blanton’s Bourbon
- ¼ oz Soda Water
- 1 Lime Wedge
Muddle mint leaves with simple syrup. Pour over crushed ice. Add bourbon. Add sprits of soda water. Mix well. Garnish with mint leaf and lime wedge. Cheers!