Not into horse racing? Who cares, the Kentucky Derby is all about the cocktail: The mint julep. You’ll need mint, bourbon, and crushed ice, but you really need to know how to make a good one. A mistake most people make is smashing the mint too hard, you really just need to “lightly massage” it to press the out the oils with all the flavor.
Here’s the classic mint julep recipe and some new variations for your Derby Day party:
Start with a julep cup or rocks glassAdd 10 mint leaves and ½ ounce simple syrupGENTLY press the mint with the end of a wooden spoon - you don’t want to smash it, just release the flavorAdd two ounces of bourbon and crushed ice, formed into a moundSlap three mint sprigs against your hand to release the oils and use as a garnish and a straw and you’re good to go.
Rum Julep - A twist on the classic.
Start with a julep cup or rocks glassAdd 10 mint leaves and ½ ounce of demerara syrup (Sugar In The Raw dissolved in hot water 1:1GENTLY press the mint with the end of a wooden spoonAdd two ounces of dark rum and a dash of bittersPile crushed ice in and form it into a moundDust three mint sprigs in powdered sugar and add as a garnish.Serve with a short straw and enjoy
Champagne-Gin Julep - Not everyone can down bourbon or rum in the afternoon, so this is a slightly lighter alternative.
Start with a large glassAdd 20 mint leaves and ½ ounce simple syrupAdd one ounce of gin and a dash of orange bittersGENTLY press the mint with the end of a wooden spoonAdd ice to the glass, but leave room for the bubblyPour five ounces of Champagne on topSlap three mint sprigs on your hand and add as a garnish, stick in a straw and sip away.