If you're anything like me, there is one thing you look forward to the most on Kentucky Derby day, and it's not whether you hit a 1-20 bet. Well, yes, you look forward to that too. But there is a surer thing at your Derby party. That is, of course, the delectable mint julep.
The mint julep first hit Churchill Downs in 1936, but it's been around since at least the 1700s. The drink was first described in print as:
a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.
Seriously, this was breakfast for Virginian farmers. Nice way to start the day! It's not quite clear if the first juleps were made with bourbon, rye whiskey, rum, or whatever was on hand, but it's now usually made with bourbon. Fresh mint, of course, has always been a staple (except for cranky purists who don't believe in sullying bourbon with mint leaves.)
Here are 5 mint julep recipes for your Derby delight. Bottoms up.
The classic, super minty mint julep - The Food Network's video will show you exactly how to get this julep into "mint" condition. Made with bourbon.
The whiskey mint julep - If you want to make your julep with whiskey, here's a good recipe.
The authentic mint julep - This recipe on Epicurious was adapted by Cindy Kebbell, head bartender of the historic Old Seelbach Bar, in Louisville, Kentucky.
The touch-of-spice mint julep - A blogger claims this is the best julep ever, due to its "dusting of nutmeg." "I'm Southern, so I should know," he writes.
The fruity mint julep - Want to be a little different? Wow 'em with cherries in your mint julep.
They all sound good enough to drink to me. I just wish I still had some of my grandmother's fresh mint, which she grew in a bed on the side of my childhood home. Mmm!
What's your favorite mint julep recipe?