The Kentucky Derby hits the track tomorrow, which ushers in a welcomed excuse to consume copious amounts of Bourbon in the middle of the day without judgment. Our house is hosting a Derby party where Mint Juleps are mandatory and hats will be optional. For the perfect Mint Julep, my Bourbon of choice is Four Roses (aptly named, I might add); while you can spring for the small batch or single barrel, which are lovely, their regular label Bourbon is fantastic for our purposes here. The flawless marriage of honeyed oak and hint of smokiness strikes the ideal chord without overbearing the freshness of the mint. As for mint, spearmint is key. Infused in simple syrup then poured over crushed ice – the ice must be crushed – it just tastes of springtime. I like to save a decent amount of fresh spearmint to garnish as well. The recipe is simple and the result will have you off to the races in no time.
I’m making a huge batch, so feel free to dial it down by half or more if need be. Just keep in mind that the simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar.
- 1 bottle of Four Roses Bourbon
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 bunch of fresh spearmint
- crushed ice
I’d just like to offer a little hack for those of you who plan to crush your own bags of ice in Ziploc bags as I’ve done in the past. Go to Sonic instead! They sell their perfectly crushed ice for $2.50 a bag. As your hammered ice slips through the thin plastic of your Ziploc and drains all over your countertop, you’ll be wishing you took my advice on this one…I’m speaking from experience here.
At least an hour ahead of serving, you want to make your simple syrup and infuse it with the mint. Keep a few sprigs of mint aside for garnish. Pour the sugar, water and mint into a pot and bring to a boil. Let the mixture cool then stick it in the fridge. Just before serving, strain the concoction through a sieve or even a coffee filter.
Mound the crushed ice into glasses and pour 2 ounces of Bourbon and 1 ounce of the mint simple syrup over the ice. Garnish with mint and serve. And don’t rush. Think southern – the slow country – the longer the drink marinates in the melted ice, the dreamier the libation becomes. Oh and a special thanks goes out to my hubby who snagged me these antique mint julep cups for Christmas this year – love you!
Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. Happy Derby Day, y’all!