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Juleps for the Kentucky Derby

Enjoy a special Julep this weekend!
Photo by Basil Hayden's, used with permission

With Spring finally in the air and the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, it’s time for Mint Juleps! A traditional cocktail made with sugar, water, bourbon and mint, the Mint Julep is the drink for this weekend. According to the official Kentucky Derby website, the Mint Julep has been the cocktail at the Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for almost a century. Nearly 120,000 Mint Juleps are served this weekend, equaling more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve cocktail, 1,000 pounds of fresh mint and 60,000 pounds of ice. Talk about some cocktailing! Grab your favorite floppy hat and get ready for the race! Cheers!

Looking for a bar to watch the race? Stone Rose Lounge in Columbus Circle is offering Southern jazz, Julep flights and Kentucky-inspired food like Hot Browns, ham sliders and derby pie on Saturday the 2nd. Derby attire is strongly encouraged, as are Juleps like the one below!

Ginger Peach Julep, Courtesy of Stone Rose Lounge

1 ½ ounces Woodford Reserve

½ ounce Mathilde Pêche Liqueur

1 Bar spoon of Sweet Ginger Puree

10 sprigs fresh mint

Splash of filtered water

Muddle Ginger Puree, Pêche Liqueur and mint leaves lightly in a mixing glass. Add ice, water and Woodford Reserve and mix well with a bar spoon. Double strain over crushed ice in a glass. Garnish with ginger and large mint sprig.

The Dram in Brooklyn, Measure Lounge and Aquavit are also offering special Juleps for this weekend.

Bitter Baby Julep by Tonia Guffey, served at The Dram

1.5 oz. Cynar

.5 oz. Campari

.5 Carpano Antica

Half a lemon muddled with fresh mint

.75 simple syrup

.25 lemon juice

Ingredients are shaken then poured over crushed ice in a julep cup or double rocks glass. Garnished with a heavy dash of angostura and a big fresh mint sprig

Johnny Julep, by Michael Smith at Measure Lounge

1.5 oz Pavan

1 oz Johnny Drum 101 proof

2 sprigs mint

Combine ingredients and lightly shake over ice. Roll shaker contents into small glass pitcher. Garnish with lime wheel.

Julep Recipe, Sarah Ford, Beverage Manager at Aquavit

2½ oz Roggen’s Rum

¾ oz Mint Aquavit (see recipe, below)

½ oz Demerara Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake well. Strain into a julep cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Mint Aquavit Recipe

750 ml Bottle Vodka (personal choice)

15 Mint Leaves, smash them with the palm of your hand to release the aromas. Do not rip or muddle, this will release bitterness.

Pour vodka into a sealed container, such as a mason jar. Add the mint. Steep for 24 hours at room temperature. Remove mint and filter before use.

For those watching at home, here are a few simple and delicious Derby-inspired drinks to make yourself:

Basil Hayden’s® Jockey’s Julep, Created by Rob Floyd (Los Angeles, CA)

2 parts Basil Hayden's® Bourbon

8-10 Mint Leaves

8 Blueberries

1 part Fresh Lime Juice

3/4 parts Simple Syrup

Muddle mint leaves and blueberries in a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients and shake over ice. Fine strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with blueberries and a sprig of mint.

Jockey's Sip by American Harvest

4 oz Fresh or all natural lemonade

3 basil leaves

2 lemon slices

½ oz simple syrup

2 oz American Harvest

Muddle the basil, simple syrup and fresh lemonade Add ice, American Harvest and lemonade. Gently agitate with a spoon and serve in a highball glass.

Caorunn Mint Julep, by Ervin Trykowski from the Finnieston Bar, Glasgow

2 oz Caorunn Gin

1 oz sugar

10 mint leaves

1 dash peach bitters

1 dash dandelion and burdock bitter

Add all ingredients to a julep cup. Add crushed ice and stir. Add more crushed ice so you have a nice mound on top. Garnish - mint bouquet and apple fan.

Basil Delight by SkinnyGirl

1 ½ parts Skinnygirl™ Cucumber Vodka

1 lime wedge

2 large basil leaves

3 parts soda water

2 large mint leaves

Directions: Squeeze lime wedge into glass. Muddle lime wedge with mint, basil and vodka. Add ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with mint leaves.

And for the more adventurous at-home mixologist, try out this one from The Liquid Chef Junior Merino!

KENTUCKY DERBY by Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef

1/2 oz Dainzu Elderflower & Ginger Syrup

3/4 oz Fresh lime juice

1 oz Regatta ginger beer

1/2 oz St. Germain

1 1/2 oz Bourbon

10 mint leaves

2 droppers Junior Merino Lavender & Yuzu Intensives (Bitters)

2 droppers Junior Merino Roasted Apple & Toasted Spices Intensives (Bitters)

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled snifter. This cocktail can be served either neat or over crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig. Spray Junior Merino Go Citrus Enhancer above the glass for an aromatizer.