For the 144th year running, diminutive men and three-year-old Thoroughbreds will don matching outfits and make the mile-and-a-quarter rounds at Churchhill Downs this weekend.
We will be watching, we will be wagering, and we will be waking up Monday morning sunburnt and needing to restock the bourbon shelf.
The cup we’ll be tippling:
A Mint Julep, of course. Some 120,000 of them will be mixed on the Derby grounds this weekend.
Herein: three ways to mix one at home.
We’ve also got four more Derby-inspired recipes for you to try.
Try one. Try all.
And may the ghost of Secretariat be with the ponies you put your pennies behind.
The julep was originally a gin drink. Arrived stateside by way of Britain in the first half of the 19th century.
Kentucky Senator Henry Clay introduced the drink to Washington’s social elite around 1840.
And it was adopted by Churchill Downs as the official pick-me-up of the Derby in 1938.
Juleps are served in a pewter cup, which the drinker should hold by the top or bottom rim so as not to disturb the frost that accumulates around the cup’s exterior.
And it should be tippled slowly, allowing the ice to dilute the contents beneath.
If you want it the way they make it down Derby way, use spearmint, which is native to Kentucky and packs a more enduring punch than peppermint.
Whatever you do, don’t mix the two.
Here’s how Jim Betz, head bartender at Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park, mixes his.
Eleven Madison Park Classic Mint Julep Jim Betz
2½ oz minted (optional) Woodford Reserve* ½ oz mint turbinado syrup† Crushed ice
Build drink in a julep cup. Add crushed ice, swizzle and top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a generous amount of mint.
*Betz mints bourbon by mixing one liter of bourbon (Betz and the Derby use Woodford Reserve) and 35 grams of mint leaves in an ISI container. Have one? Charge twice with N20 without a discharge. Shake. Let stand for five minutes. Discharge the air back into the bottle and pour any liquid that escaped back into the ISI. Let stand for five minutes, or until the bubbles stop. Strain out any mint before using.
†Minted Turbinado Syrup is equal parts hot mint tea to turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw). Make a mint tea (15 g mint:16 oz. boiling water). Let stand for 3-5 minutes while tasting. Dont let it go bitter. Strain off flavored water into 16 oz. turbinado sugar and whisk until combined.
1 oz. agave syrup 1 bar spoon of water 5 mint sprigs
Muddle 4 mint sprigs in pewter mug. Add agave syrup and a bar spoon of water. Fill with crushed ice. Add Sauza® 901®, stir well. Add more crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.
1 ½ oz. Cynar® ¾ oz. Wild Turkey 101® Bourbon ½ oz. simple syrup ½ oz. fresh lemon juice ½ oz. fresh grapefruit juice 12 mint leaves 2 oz. soda water 2 dashes Fee Brother’s Grapefruit Bitters
In a Julep cup or rocks glass add mint and all ingredients except soda water and bitters. Gently muddle, add ice then soda, and top with bitters.
Charles Washington LOCL Bar in the Nylo Hotel
1½ oz Jefferson’s classic bourbon ½ tsp. fresh lime juice 1 oz. ginger beer ½ oz Grenadine
In a glass, combine ginger beer, lime juice, bourbon and Grenadine. Stir and pour into a Champagne flute. Garnish with a twist of lime and a blackberry.
Named for 2015 Derby hopeful Upstart Jim Betz Eleven Madison Park
¾ oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry ¾ oz. Cynar ¾ oz. Woodford Reserve Rye 1 oz. Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva 1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a coupe.
Lynnette Marrero Tijuana Picnic
1 oz. mezcal 1 oz. jalapeño-infused tequila 1 oz. fresh lime juice ¾ oz. cucumber juice ½ oz. agave syrup 5-6 mint leaves
Shake and strain into a highball glass with a salt and pepper rim. Garnish with mint sprig.
Jessica Duré American Whiskey
2 oz. Bulleit Rye ½ oz. Amaro Lucano ½ oz. rose syrup ½ oz. lemon juice 1½ oz. Great South Bay Blood Orange Pale Ale Blood orange
Combine all except the pale ale. Drop in two wheels of fresh blood orange and shake vigorously. Before straining, add pale ale and strain all into a glass over a couple cubes of fresh ice. Garnish with a blood orange peel.
Thanks for reading InsideHook. Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more stories just like this.