The time is drawing near when racetracks around the country will raise a Mint Julep in solidarity with those at Churchill Downs for the annual Run for the Roses at the Kentucky Derby.
Originally, the Mint Julep was a morning drink Virginians used to start their day (I usually reach for water or tea, but to each their own). It was not until 1938 that the drink became synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. That was the year Churchill Downs sold these drinks in commemorative cups and a tradition was born. Incredibly, it is estimated that over 120,000 of these drinks will be served at Churchill Downs alone on race day. If you would like to join the fun, here is the traditional recipe (The Early Times Mint Julep) served at Churchill Downs:
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 8 sprigs of fresh mint
- Crushed ice
- Kentucky bourbon (it’s tradition!)
Boil the water and sugar together for five minutes, allowing the sugar to dissolve completely. Once this “simple syrup” is made, allow it to cool. Once cooled, add the eight sprigs of fresh mint to the syrup and refrigerate overnight, if possible.
To make the drink, fill a cup with crushed ice, a tablespoon of infused syrup and two ounces of Kentucky bourbon. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve in a silver julep cup (if you have one — if not, a glass will do) and enjoy.