Whether you love it or think it’s a criminal waste of good Bourbon, the mint julep is inextricably linked with the Kentucky Derby, and your guests will expect to sip one, particularly if they’re non-Kentuckians and don’t know better. Every year, about 120,000 mint juleps are served at the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, according to Early Times, the whiskey used at Churchill Downs for their juleps. That takes 60,000 pounds of ice, 1,000 pounds of fresh mint and 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail.
You probably won’t need quite that much. In fact, Kathy Hensley, co-owner of The Silver Spoon catering company in Louisville and The Silver Spoon II, which operates the Derby CafeÅL at the Kentucky Derby
Museum, suggests serving mini-juleps. “What we found is that most people at events would take about two sips of their juleps and then sit them down.”
The Traditional Mint Julep Recipe
2.5 ounces of 94-proof or higher bourbon
1 tbs. sugar
2 tsp water
Gently muddle leaves of the mint, after removing from the stems. Add sugar and water in a Julep Cup or Collins glass. Fill with crushed ice. Add Bourbon and garnish with strongly stemmed mint.
Another hassle-free way to serve Bourbon is to mix it into a punch and let your guests help themselves, freeing you up to be a charming host. Here is one you can mostly make ahead of time – in fact, you have to make it at least a couple of hours ahead so it has time to chill.