The Race for the Mint!!

As The first Saturday of May Rapidly Approaches, The Kentucky Derby Lights Up Louisville and The Time Honored Mint Julep Comes Back into Season.

This notable cocktail was not always associated with bourbon, but since its introduction in Washington, D. C., by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky at the Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel, the bourbon version has grown legs. This signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby is one of the most well known drinks in the world and has even achieved a $1000 per-glass price tag for a special version of the drink sold only at the Kentucky Derby. The special Derby Mint Julep was introduced in 2006 and is actually served in gold-plated cups with silver straws featuring a specially selected batch of Woodford Reserve Bourbon (www.woodfordreserve.com) served over ice from the Bavarian Alps, with fresh mint from Ireland and sugar from Australia. Proceeds from this upscale cocktail go to charitable causes that support retired race horses.

While Woodford Reserve is the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, it is Early Times Kentucky Whiskey (www.earlytimes.com), a Woodford Reserve sister brand produced by Brown-Forman, that is used to make the Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby. It is said that Churchill Downs serves over 120,000 of these Derby juleps over a two day period!

Ready for some fun? Just prior to the Kentucky Derby there are several special Derby editions of bourbon that become available. Brands such as Makers Mark, Woodford Reserve and Early Times have all released special Derby editions, sometimes at a higher cost with additional proceeds going toward thoroughbred retirement causes. These coveted editions are hard to come by and a delight to find and offer to guests as the Run for the Roses takes place in Kentucky. Touted as the most watched two minutes of sports, the Derby, also the first of three races in the Triple Crown, offers a splendid opportunity for people across the country to entertain and celebrate.

Locally, Chris Clark of Vintage Wine Market offers an impressive selection of both bourbons and whiskeys, as well as a knowledge base that is sure to impress the most astute bourbon enthusiast. He and his trained staff can help you choose the perfect selection for your Derby event, and can offer suggestions that take you all the way from sippin’ to mixin’ to sugared-up and minted.

This first recipe and other classic cocktail recipes are chronicled in Southern Cocktails: Dixie Drinks, Party Potions and Classic Libations.

Mint Julep

Ingredients:
6 – 7 fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp. simple syrup
2 oz. bourbon
Crushed ice
Tools: bar spoon

Preparation:
Combine mint leaves, syrup and bourbon in a glass. Using a bar spoon, crush the mint to release its essence into the liquid. Fill the glass with ice. Gently press the spoon into the ice, shaking it to incorporate the bourbon-syrup mixture. Garnish.

Traditional Bourbon Mint Julep

Ingredients:
Mint (leaves and sprigs)
Granulated sugar (to taste)
Bourbon
Crushed or shaved ice

Preparation:
In an Old-Fashioned glass, Collins glass, high ball glass or julep cup, add mint leaves, granulated sugar and crushed or shaved ice in the bottom. Crush the ingredients together. Fill with bourbon. Top with crushed or shaved ice. Stir well. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby

Use Early Times Kentucky Whiskey instead of bourbon and serve in an Official Kentucky Derby Glass.

The Special $1000 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

In a gold-plated julep cup, use Bavarian Alps ice, Irish fresh mint leaves, Australian sugar and Woodford Reserve’s choice bourbon if you can get your hands on it! Garnish with a sprig of Irish mint and a silver straw.
Interesting Twists

Finish the original recipe with a couple of dashes of Fee Brothers Mint Bitters.
Substitute 1 oz. of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur for the simple syrup.
Consumption

If using a silver or pewter julep cup, hold the cup at the rim or base and allow main body of cup to frost.

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For more information on bourbon whiskey, flavors and suggestions contact Adam Pate at Vintage Wine Market in Ridgeland, Mississippi at (601) 605-9199. One of Mississippi’s newest, best, unkept secrets, Vintage Wine Market (www.vintagewinemarket.com), is located in the Renaissance Center next to Fresh Market and provides choices as well as expertise when it comes to their ever expanding selection of bourbon whiskeys.

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