FUN FACTS ABOUT DERBY DAY AND MINT JULEPS
From friend and colleague, Babz Goldman of Babz Bistro, Maysville, Kentucky:
“The classic drink has been promoted by Churchill Downs in association with the Kentucky derby since 1938. Almost 120,000 Juleps are served over the two day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Derby.
In the 18th century, the Mint Julep was an American Southern cocktail that denoted the host as a person of means. This mostly comes down to the fact it's made with ice. Ice was certainly a treasure in the 1700’s, and a status symbol to say the least. Juleps are also a drink that was once traditionally served in a silver cup. A silver cup was not exactly common among the working class.
While in residence, U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the drink to Washington D.C. at the Round Robin Bar of the Willard Hotel.
The term “julep” is meant to define a sweet drink, sometimes a medicinal one. Thankfully, this classic Derby Drink is available to all of us whether watching the Derby at home or inside Churchill Downs.”
Now here’s my version of this classic drink!
Make a simple mint syrup by cooking 1 cup each water and sugar with a generous handful chopped Kentucky Colonel spearmint leaves. Strain and cool. Fill glass with crushed ice, 4 oz. bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup. Top with mint.
Mojitos: Put ice in shaker. Add 1/3 cup light rum, Mojito mint leaves to taste, 1/4 cup lime juice and sugar to taste. Shake and serve over ice with a splash of club soda and mint sprig.