While it may be too late to the get the $2,000 Woodford Reserve mint julep created for 140th Kentucky Derby, it doesn't mean you can create your own killer drink for the races.
In honor of Derby Day, May 3, we've collected some of the nation's best recipes for the classic summer cocktail. Its refreshing mix of sugar, bourbon and fresh mint is the perfect way to stay cool as temperatures begin to rise.
The mint julep has a long history in the United States. As early as 1816, silver julep cups were awarded to county fair champions. There is evidence that Virginians enjoyed the cocktail as far back as the 17th-century.
Today, the mint julep continues to be a staple of the American South and the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, where it has been served at Churchill Downs since the first horse races in 1875. An average of nearly 120,000 mint juleps are consumed every year during the Derby.
The Ultimate Mint Julep
Sources say that Kentucky Senator Henry Clay first concocted the mint julep in the 1800s. No matter who invented the cocktail, or when exactly they discovered the terrific combination of mint, sugar and bourbon, it's now an American classic that has as rich a flavor as it does history.
This recipe for a pineapple julep comes from the most famous bartenders' and cocktail book of all time, Bon-Vivant's Companion by Jerry Thomas (1862). It was the first real cocktail book ever published in the United States. This julep recipe is a nostalgic and delicious homage to a drinking era that is long gone but not forgotten.
Old Fashioned Mint Julep
This old fashioned mint julep recipe comes from the first real cocktail book ever published in the United States, Bon-Vivant's Companion by Jerry Thomas (1862). The recipe calls for both brandy and rum, but no whiskey, debunking the theory that whiskey has always been the classic julep spirit. This Mint Julep Day, cool off with a tall glass of American history.
Kiwi Mint Julep
There's nothing like summer's humidity to draw out the frozen drink lover in all of us. This tropical version of the classic mint julep is perfect for hot days in the sun.
Chocolate Mint Julep
The best thing about bourbon (if we can narrow it down to just one thing) is that it versatile. Bourbon's sweetness makes it the perfect companion to any sugary concoction. This recipe for a chocolate mint julep is no exception. Bourbon is elevated to its greatest potential with this rich mix of savory and sweet.