Why limit yourself to just one? The ingredients in a Mint Julep are so easily enhanced by the addition of a fruity component so I say go nuts and make them all; these really are The Best Mint Juleps for a Derby Party!
My obsession with the Kentucky Derby started during the years we lived in North Carolina. I wish I could say I’ve been to the Derby but the best I can do is share that I’ve been by there. We moved to Raleigh from a suburb of St. Louis when I was in my 20’s and it was a long haul by car but I made the trip with a friend since I wanted to bring my younger sister back with me for an extended stay and a plane trip would not work for the stuff we knew she would want to bring with her.
So my dream on that trip was to spend some time in the rolling hills of Kentucky and thankfully Janie and her daughter Erin both obliged me on the first leg of our trip. There is something so idyllic about that part of the country; the rolling hills of Kentucky with mile upon mile of white fences and horses running inside them was magical.
I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember. An annual trip to Busch Farms outside of St. Louis to see the Clydesdales when I was younger may have started my fascination and my love was cemented the years I had a best friend who owned two horses; one that I got to ride quite often.
I will never claim to be a good rider but I sure loved it. Even when that stallion got away from me a bit and I couldn’t stop him. Silly me…I saw that bench coming and was scared to death anticipating the worst tumble of my life when he did what horses do…he jumped it. If you had asked me to take that big horse out and jump a bench with him I would have never agreed but it remains to this day both the most scary but also one of the most exhilarating things I’ve EVER done.
Watching the Derby brings about the same emotions; I am both scared to death for those horses but also cannot deny the excitement of watching them race. They are surely one of the most beautiful creatures on this earth to behold when they do their thing so I’ve never lost that passion even if I haven’t been on a horse in years. I do honor that love though with an annual Derby party.
And not just any type of Derby party. My friends and I are busy in the middle of a Saturday afternoon and many of them have little kids of their own so a big fancy party is not going to happen. What does happen is that I invite the neighbors over, I open my home for fifteen minutes before the race, have a mint julep cocktail ready for everyone and we watch the race with drinks in hand and once it’s over…well that’s about it. Like the race, it’s fast and furious and everyone goes on about their business.
So every year my one ‘thing’ is to come up with a unique take on this signature cocktail. Until this year! Next week I’m going to celebrate Cinco De Mayo with friends; it’s a pretty big deal in Denver where there is a significant Hispanic population. I won’t venture downtown but a friend has invited me over to a party where they will be securing freshly made tamales and well, I could not say no. Sadly the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo are on the same day this year; that was a choice no one should have to make!
So…next Friday instead of a new Mint Julep recipe for Friday Cocktails I’ll be preparing something more attuned to the Cinco de Mayo celebration…you just know it’s going to be a Margarita, right?
But I didn’t want to fail my Kentucky Derby friends so I’ve put together a list of my favorites, which, oddly enough, does not cover a plain and simple Mint Julep…how did I let that happen? So I’ve included a recipe from Maker’s Mark on this page in the event you want yours simple and following that link will take you to a few more…juleps everywhere!
Need some of the classic Mint Julep Cups too? They are pricey but but beautiful but I’ve also found this light weight Julep Cup and these Plastic Cups with a Silver Rim that I use for a crowd; I’ll never own a dozen of the real deal!
I’ll not forget the Derby; I have a signed oath (OK, not really but a promise at least) that we can turn on the race for those few short minutes that I look forward to each and every year. Who’s your favorite to win? I don’t have one…I wait until the last minute and go with my gut and it’s usually some poor underdog. It’s not often I win but when I do? Now THAT’s exciting!
I honestly love ALL of these!
- Roasted Pineapple and Rum Mint Julep
- Sparkling Blackberry Mint Julep
- Muscavado and Vanilla Bean Mint Julep
- Honey Peach Mint Julep
- Thin Mint Julep
Maker's Mark Mint Julep
This cocktail is as much a part of Southern culture as hospitality. With pronounced sugar and mint notes, the Mint Julep goes exceedingly well with long summer days, horses, pretty hats and good company.
- 2 ounces Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Fresh mint leaves
- Add all ingredients to a julep cup.
- Gently muddle mint to express the oils.
- Add crushed ice.
- Garnish with a mint sprig.