Kentucky Derby Recipes: Proper Mint Juleps and Mint Julep Bar

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Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps
One of the accomplishments in life of which I am very proud is my ability to turn any Mint Julep naysayer into a Mint Julep lover. Over and over, I’ve proven to people that a good Mint Julep is lovable by just about anybody. I understand people’s supposed dislike of Mint Juleps. If you have a bad Mint Julep it is like hell in glass, and that is no exaggeration. But a real, true, fresh Mint Julep made with proper preparation is like minty, bourbon liquid candy, and you can’t ask for more than that.

For my Derby Parties I often set up a Mint Julep bar and pin-up instructions for how to prepare a Mint Julep. This allows me to entertain my guests while allowing others to learn how to make a Mint Julep the proper way. The Recipe print out below is a list of instructions you can post for your Mint Julep bar. So gather ye bourbons while ye may, and enjoy the Kentucky Derby season!

MINT JULEP BAR: WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Julep Cups or Short Highball style glasses
Muddler or Wooden Spoon
Stirring Spoons
Straws
Scissors
Multiple Bourbons of Choice (I love Four Roses and use the Yellow Label, Single Barrel and Small Batch)
Fresh Mint Sprigs
Pebbled Ice
Mint Syrups of Choice – Basic Mint Syrup, Honey Mint Syrup, Ginger Mint Syrup, Lavender Mint Syrup (at the bottom of this post you can see the ratios I use)
Paper Towels (for cleanup)

MINT JULEP RECIPE

Yield: 1 Cocktail, multiply as needed

  • INGREDIENTS
    1 Sprig Fresh Mint
    2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon of choice
    0.5 oz. Mint Rich Syrup*
    2 Cups Pebbled/Crushed Ice**

    *Rich syrup is a heavier dilution than simple syrup. Just dilute 2 parts Sugar with 1 part warm water (no need to heat or boil, the warm water and a little shaking will speed dilution). Add Mint leaves to the bottle and allow to diffuse into the syrup a minimum of 24 hours in advance of using. See below for complete recipes and suggested ratios.
    **You can pick up pebbled ice in large cups to go at Sonic.

    DIRECTIONS
    1. Pull 4-6 leaves off the bottom part of Mint sprig. Crush leaves into your Julep glass with a muddler or wooden spoon, being sure to smash the leaves on the inside of the glass including the sides.
    2. Measure out volumes noted above of Bourbon and Mint Rich Syrup and pour into the Julep glass over mint leaves. Stir.
    3. Tightly pack ice into the Julep cup, snowballing it into a smooth circle over the top of the glass.
    4. Place remainder of Mint sprig in the side of the glass for aroma and garnish. Place straw into the drink next to the Mint and cut the straw short with scissors so that your nose is just at even level with the Mint. Inhale deeply, drink up and Enjoy!

    Four Roses Mint Julep Bar

    BASIC MINT SYRUP
    2 Cups Sugar*
    1 Cup Very Warm Water
    3 Sprigs Fresh Mint

    *For richer, darker syrups you can substitute white sugar with Turbinado Sugar, Raw Sugar or Coconut Palm Sugar.

    Put all ingredients in a Ball Jar or Cruet with Pourer. Cover with lid or with palm of your hand (if using a Cruet) and shake together Sugar, Warm Water and Mint Leaves until Sugar is dissolved. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours before serving so Mint will infuse into the Syrup. Syrup with Fresh Mint should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

    HONEY MINT SYRUP
    1 3/4 Cups Raw Honey
    1 1/4 Cups Very Warm Water
    3 Sprigs Fresh Mint

    Put all ingredients in a Ball Jar or Cruet with Pourer. Cover with lid or with palm of your hand (if using a Cruet) and shake together Honey, Warm Water and Mint Leaves until Honey is melted. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours before serving so Mint will infuse into the Syrup. Syrup with Fresh Mint should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

    GINGER MINT SYRUP
    2 Cups Sugar*
    1 Cup Very Warm Water
    3 Sprigs Fresh Mint
    2 inches Fresh Ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices

    *For richer, darker syrups you can substitute white sugar with Turbinado Sugar, Raw Sugar or Coconut Palm Sugar.

    Put all ingredients in a Ball Jar or Cruet with Pourer. Cover with lid or with palm of your hand (if using a Cruet) and shake together Sugar, Warm Water, Mint Leavesand Ginger until Sugar is dissolved. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours before serving so Mint will infuse into the Syrup. Syrup with Fresh Mint should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

    LAVENDER MINT SYRUP
    2 Cups Sugar*
    1 Cup Very Warm Water
    3 Sprigs Fresh Mint
    1 1/2 Tbsp Dried Lavender, tied into a tea bag or piece of cheesecloth**

    *For richer, darker syrups you can substitute white sugar with Turbinado Sugar, Raw Sugar or Coconut Palm Sugar.
    **Lavender is more likely to get stuck in the pourer on the cruet so it is best to tie it into a bundle. If you have fresh culinary Lavender on Sprigs, just use three Sprigs and pop it into the bottle as you do the mint.

    Put all ingredients in a Ball Jar or Cruet with Pourer. Cover with lid or with palm of your hand (if using a Cruet) and shake together Sugar, Warm Water, Mint Leaves and Lavender until Sugar is dissolved. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least 24 hours before serving so Mint will infuse into the Syrup. Syrup with Fresh Mint should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

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    4 Replies to “Kentucky Derby Recipes: Proper Mint Juleps and Mint Julep Bar”

    1. I normally like just the traditional Churchill Downs recipe for the mint julep, especially when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. But I have to admit that you have some pretty interesting variations here. I will definitely try a couple of these out.

      1. I hope you enjoy these variations. I learned from an cocktail making king! It is delicious stuff no matter how you make it. I had one at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day, and a Lily too of course. 😉

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