Kentucky Derby time is here and spring/summer is right around the corner. The Mint Julep is the drink of the Kentucky Derby and no one should be without one on Derby Day. I’m not a big drinker, but my husband (and his sister, and his brother, and his dad, and his mom, and all of his friends) really love themselves some bourbon.
Use the best bourbon you can for this mint julep
The husband has started a pretty nice bourbon collection, and when I told him I was going to write up a quick recipe for a great mint julep, he said, “make sure to use the good stuff”. So that’s what I did.
He would recommend using Elijah Craig, Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel or Knob Creek single barrel, but use what you can that you like to drink.
Credit for this recipe goes to his sister…she’s a hostess with the mostest and knows how to make a drink right AND make it pretty! She says:
“Some folks will tell you a mint julep has powdered sugar and some people tell you to buy a bottle of pre-made mint julep mix that you just pour over ice and add a sprig of mint too. But those of us raised in Kentucky know the tried and true recipe…”-Karen Katz
How to bring Derby Day into your home
This is the perfect time to bring out the theme day in full force if you won’t be at the track.
- Horse racing: use brooms and set up a track. You can place “bets” on who is going to win the race. Also, spread the races out like they do at the track. Make an announcement every 45 minutes or so that a new race is about to begin. You can make colorful jerseys for the “horses” to wear or can change their clothes and play a different jockey during each race.
- Design your own silks: Silks is the name of the jerseys jockeys wear on race day. They come in every color of the rainbow. Print out this coloring sheet and have your kiddos design their own.
- A bit of history: Read about the history of the Kentucky Derby here, learn about a few horses and then (with older kids) have them make up a trivia game that you can play with them.
- Watch an old race: Look up races from previous years and have your kiddos bet on who’s gonna win. Have a small prize for the winner.
How to make a Mint Julep
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- Don’t beat up the mint leaves too badly. You want them to release their flavor, but maintain their integrity.
- Crushed ice is the way to go. If you don’t have any, simple blend ice cubes in a blender (my Vitamix did a great job) till crushed well, or put in a zip top bag and smash with something heavy till crushed.
- Simple syrup is one part water to one part sugar. I make it with one cup of each, bring to a boil and then let thicken a bit. You can store this in the fridge for up to a month.
- This drink is best served in a glass. We like to use old Derby glasses or mason jars.
Simple ingredients, simple flavors and simply a must for any Kentucky Derby party, BBQ with friends or warm summer evening on the porch.
Making this drink is as simple as putting on your favorite gray t-shirt.
Now go enjoy!
Mint Julep Ingredients
1 generous ounce simple syrup (more or less depending on how sweet you like it
2 generous ounce bourbon (husband suggests either Old Forrester or Knob Creek Single Barrel for mixing)
Fresh mint leaves
Ice (crushed a lot of it)
Straw for drinking
- Add mint (2-3 leaves, more if you like it mintier) to a glass
- Crush it gently to release the flavor
- Add the simple syrup
- Add the bourbon
- Stir everything together
- Add crushed ice to the top of the cup
- Pour another drop or two of bourbon over the top
- Garnish with another mint leaf
- Drink through a straw…this is important to get all the flavors together!