Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mint Juleps for the Kentucky Derby

I love horses, always have, always will. So for me, the first Saturday in May is always exciting. I've been watching the Kentucky Derby every year for almost as long as I can remember and amazingly I can't remember ever missing one, at least not recently. I was even able to visit Churchill Downs when I was in middle school, it was great, even my dad liked it and he doesn't care about horses at all. I'm holding out hope for a Triple Crown winner someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Usually it's just Lara and I in front of the TV for a few hours to watch the 2 minute race, but this year I was feeling a little more festive. I decided that I needed to try making mint juleps, the drink of the Kentucky Derby. Since I know nothing about bourbon other than I don't like it, I invited my grandparents over for pizza and derby watching, and also asked if they'd bring the bourbon since they have a little more knowledge of the stuff. It turned out to be a very fun afternoon, a nice way to relax after spreading wood chips all morning. My grandma even showed up with a festive hat, very in the spirit of things, I loved it!

To make the mint juleps, I went out and bought a spearmint plant and whipped up a batch of simple syrup. I took a few leaves of mint in each glass, crushed them a little with a spoon, and then covered them with a ton of crushed ice. I then poured one ounce of bourbon over the ice followed by one ounce of simple syrup. Stir it up a little and serve. I was surprised because I really enjoyed the drink. Pouring sugar water over whiskey makes it quite drinkable!

The key players; mint and bourbon
(my grandpa says this is good bourbon, I liked it, but what do I know)

My spearmint plant

Crushing the mint leaves

Ready to drink, traditionally this is served in a sterling silver cup, 
seeing as I'm a grad student, a glass will have to do

Enjoying our drinks, love the hat Grammy!

Note: I don't know how authentic this recipe is, but it's what I did. My inspiration was a segment I saw on the Today show. I liked it. 

  • 1 c water
  • 1 c sugar
  • mint
  • bourbon
  • crushed ice (lots!)

To make simple syrup, put water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat, simmering until all the sugar dissolves (about 5 minutes). Cool the syrup in the fridge until cold. 

Place mint leaves in glass, crush a few times with a spoon. Cover the mint with lots of crushed ice. Add one ounce each of bourbon and simple syrup. Give it a stir. Garnish with a mint sprig. Drink and enjoy.


  1. I need to try this with you... maybe in 2 years!


  2. I didn't think I liked bourbon much but I really liked this drink