It’s time for the most exciting two minutes in sports… or so they say. I do not know who they are but they say it. This year marks the running of the 143rd Kentucky Derby. It’s also the time of year that mint and bourbon mixed with sugar and crushed ice produce the famous Mint Julep. Kentucky Derby and The Mint Julep = A Good Time.
Kentucky Derby Facts
Here are some Derby facts. It is held every year in Louisville Kentucky at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The Derby is often times called the run for the roses because they drape a rose blanket over the winning horse. It is the first leg in the Triple Crown of horse racing the other two being the Preakness and the Belmont stakes the last Triple Crown winner was American Pharaoh. The first running of the race was in 1875. Horses run 1 1/4 mile and Secretariat is still the fastest horse to ever run the Derby in 1 minute 59.4 seconds.
Mint Julep Facts
The Mint Julep is an alcoholic beverage consisting of bourbon, sugar syrup, mint and ice, preferably crushed or shaved ice. The Mint Julep is most often associated with the Kentucky Derby but many southerners drink it like iced tea on a hot day. The Julep is a simple drink and has as many variations as there are bartenders. To crush or shave the ice. Serve it in a highball glass or rocks glass or the famous silver/pewter cup. Which Bourbon to use? Pre made mix or muddle, stir and serve the cocktail as it was intended. The choices go on and on from the bourbon used to the sugar added it is a drink that can be made so many ways..
Kentucky Derby and The Mint Julep
The Mint Julep pre dates the Kentucky Derby, used as an elixir for sickness in the stomach as far back as the 1780’s. It came to the Kentucky Derby in 1938 and today 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at the 2 day derby extravaganza.
On my recent visit to Kentucky I was on a search for a Mint Julep. I have drunk a lot of drinks over the years but never a Mint Julep, I know startling . Chalk it up to being a northerner and the Kentucky or the Derby was not a place I had visited. My reasons for not going to the derby…I look awful in most hats and I am still trying to grasp the appeal of horse racing. Now do not take that as I don’t like horse racing it is just I have never really been exposed. Personally I found great appeal in driving thru Kentucky horse country much of it shared with the Bourbon Trail. They seem to go hand in hand strong horses, dark beautiful and elegant. Bourbons strong-tasting, dark and beautiful in their complexity and elegant in their finish.
The Elusive Mint Julep
If you follow my Instagram or Facebook Feeds (shameless plug..Upper right hand corner to do so) You will know I was hard pressed to find the famous Mint Julep while in Kentucky. I missed bar hours at one distillery that rumored to make them wonderfully. At another establishment something akin to dirty water from the Ohio River was served disguised as a Mint Julep. The last morning I was in Kentucky I finally had a wonderful Mint Julep with Breakfast at The Brown Hotel that tasted good and satisfied my search, at least for the time being.
I also picked up a pre-made mix while at Makers Mark Distillery that is only available pre derby until it is gone
The bottle dipped with green wax and not the well known red wax that Makers Mark is famous for. I have not cracked the seal on the pre-made Mint Julep. Today I will be making a Mint Julep from scratch thereby giving you the data you need to enjoy the Derby tomorrow.