When the announcer says “And they’re off,” and the horses burst out of the gate to run the annual Kentucky Derby, it’s best you have a mint julep in hand.
The official drink of the race, a julep is traditionally served over crushed ice in a pewter cup.
Related: How to Make a Mint Julep.
Here’s another way to make Derby Day Mint Juleps special: use local Hudson Valley bourbon.
Tuthilltown Spirit’s Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey was a game-changer when it became the first New York whiskey distiller to open since prohibition, so that would be a good choice.
Another option: Black Dirt Bourbon, distilled in Warwick by partners Jason Grizzanti and Jeremy Kidde, who have also won awards for their American Fruits brandies and their Warwick Gin. Black Dirt Bourbon uses ingredients sourced directly from the Black Dirt region.
Or, for what Rochambeau Wines manager Jeff Wooddy calls the “only true New York whiskey right now,” go for the Solera Aged Bourbon from Hillrock Estate Distillery from Ancram, N.Y. The estate uses its own grains and water to produce something truly local. Put a little of that in your glass with some simple syrup and a sprig of mint tickling your nose and odds are, you’ll be happy, even if your horse doesn’t win, place or show.
Serves 4 (you can double or triple, even)
- 1 big bunch mint, tops cut off and reserved for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups bourbon
- Simple syrup (1:1)
- Crushed ice
- Club soda
- Pour the bourbon into a pitcher and throw the bottom part of the mint in it. Muddle the mint to release the oils and let it macerate for at least 10 minutes and up to half an hour. While you’re waiting, crush the ice.
- Sweeten the minty bourbon to taste by pouring in simple syrup. Start small; you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
- Fill 4 lowball glasses (or pewter cups if you have them) with crushed ice.
- Strain the bourbon mixture into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass, leaving enough room at the top for club soda. Top with club soda and garnish with a couple of big fat sprigs of mint. You want them to tickle your nose.
- 3 ounces bourbon
- 6 sprigs mint
- 2 to 4 tablespoons simple syrup
- Soda water
- Mint for garnish
- Mix bourbon, mint and simple syrup in a pint glass. Add 3 pieces of ice and muddle for about a minute. Let stand for several minutes. Strain into glass filled with shaved ice. Top with soda water and a mint sprig. For a mintier version, remove the three pieces of ice, leave the mint, and pour all ingredients into the glass followed by fresh ice.
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 cups chopped fresh mint sprigs
- Crushed ice
- 1 1/2 ounces (1 jigger) bourbon per julep, or to taste
- Garnish: Long mint sprigs
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chopped mint and let the mixture stand for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
- Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into a jar or small bowl, pressing hard on the mint solids to extract all the mint essence. Discard the solids and let the syrup cool. The syrup may be made up to 2 weeks in advance and kept covered and chilled in the refrigerator. (The syrup will darken, but this will not affect the taste.) For each julep, fill a silver cup or 10-ounce glass with some of the crushed ice. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mint syrup, or to taste, and 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon. Stir the julep with a long spoon or stirrer very rapidly. Garnish each julep with a long mint sprig.
- 4 cups watermelon
- 1 cup bourbon
- 2 cups mint
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Put all ingredients in a bowl and crush with a potato masher. Strain into a pitcher. Pour into a cup filled with crushed ice. Top with a splash of soda and garnish with a mint sprig.
Originally published April 30, 2014.