For that special SATURDAY in MAY, in Louisville Kentucky.

The Story

The Mint Julep has always been associated with money and promoted in association with the Kentucky Derby since 1938.  The first Mint Juleps were made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, mint imported from Ireland, spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps, sugar from Australia, and served in gold-plated cups with silver straws. Pretty fancy! 

Today the traditional mug is made from stainless steel, but lacking this, I pressed my Corkcicle wine glass into service. It’s chill.

Churchill Downs has promoted Mint Juleps since 1938. Each year around 120,000 glasses of this classic mint julep recipe are served over the 2 day race period. That’s a lot!

Fast horses, beautiful women, and fancy bourbon


The Mint Julep was first prescribed in 1784 for stomach issues, and in 1803 was described in a book in London as, “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” In the nineteenth century juleps were made with both bourbon and Genever, an aged gin.

In 2021 for the 16th year in a row, the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep charity program returned to the Kentucky Derby, and honoured the Black jockeys who dominated horse racing in its early years.

The Recipe

What you need

10 mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar or 1 tsp syrup
Soda water
2 1/2 ounces Kentucky bourbon whiskey
Crushed ice

What you do 
Place the mint leaves in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass and top with the sugar. Muddle these together until the leaves begin to break down. Add a splash of soda water, fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice, and add the bourbon. Top with another splash of soda; stir, and serve. 
Garnish a sprig of mint

Serve immediately. Straw optional.

Patrick (Paddy) Moore

Patrick (Paddy) Moore is the author of the series Quarantinis, Eh? featuring cocktails that commemorate the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021.

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