Best Mint Juleps for the Kentucky Derby

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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!

Best Mint Juleps include a Pineapple Mint Julep in a Julep Cup
Roasted Pineapple and Rum Mint Julep

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.

Best Mint Juleps have to include this beautiful Blackberry Mint Julep!
Sparkling Blackberry Mint Julep

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 with that I’ve managed over the years to come up with The Best Mint Juleps!

Muscavado and Vanilla Bean Mint Julep in a Julep Cup
Muscavado and Vanilla Bean Mint Julep

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 usually happen is that I invite the neighbors over, I open my home for fifteen minutes before the race, have an assortment of the Best Mint Juleps 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.

Last year there was nothing; and I hate that our tradition was cancelled. This year it will happen but be a bit different; let’s hope it doesn’t snow because we’ll be out back on my deck watching it through the dining room window…I’m not yet ready to have a crowd inside; nope.

Honey Peach Mint Julep in a Cup
Honey Peach Mint Julep

Usually 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; it’s a pretty big deal in Denver where there is a significant Hispanic population.

A neighbor has invited me over to their small outside get together where they will be securing freshly made tamales and well, I could not say no. Sadly the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo are going to be celebrated on the same day this year; this is a choice no one should have to make!

Strawberry Mint Julep Cocktail in Silver Cup with Garnish Closeup
Strawberry Mint Julep

So this 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 something with tequila, right?

But I didn’t want to fail my Kentucky Derby friends so I’ve put together a list of my Best Mint Juleps, all of them favorites, which, oddly enough, does not cover a plain and simple Mint Julep…how did I let that happen?

So, to right that wrong, I’ve included a recipe from Maker’s Mark on this page in the event you want yours simple…following that link will take you to a few more too…juleps everywhere!

Need some of the classic Mint Julep Cups too? They are pricey but beautiful and 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!

By the way; I know that the Best Mint Juleps are ubiquitous with The Kentucky Derby, but these drinks are also great all summer long; the ones with fresh fruit are particularly well suited. They are too good for just ONE day!

Want a Derby favorite that is not a cocktail?

I’ve got you covered…you must try this Kentucky Derby Pie with Walnuts and Bourbon. It’s as sweet as a day in the South!

PIN IT! ‘Best Mint Juleps’

 Best Mint Juleps - An Assortment of Mint Juleps including Classic, Honey, Peach, Strawberry, and Blackberry

Juleps

Yield: 1 Cocktail

Maker's Mark 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.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

Instructions

  1. Gently muddle mint in the bottom of a julep cup to express the oils.
  2. Add crushed ice.
  3. Mix together the bourbon and simple syrup in a bar glass and pour over the crused ice.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

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4 Comments

  1. Beautiful photos! I’m waiting for my mint to recover from two late freezes! I was just looking at it earlier and it’s got a way to go!

    1. I don’t have any in the ground so I have to replace it in pots each year. The mint I left at my old house was 25 years old!

    1. We are just now having weather that is conducive to cleaning up the garden and getting ready for summer. I don’t have mint in the ground but do you know the trick for it?

      Plant it in a 5 gallon bucket and then plant the bucket…I kept one from taking over my garden for 23 years at my old house. I just grow it in a pot here so winter puts it in its’ place!

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