On Saturday, May 7, embrace the American tradition that is the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby and serve up the official drink, the mint julep. Of all the Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby seems to have the most engrained sense of tradition. From the Twin Spires atop Churchill Downs’ original grandstand, to the University of Louisville’s marching band playing “My Old Kentucky Home,” to the winner’s impressive garland of roses, everything about the Derby is a steeped brew thick with history. And the mint julep is no different.
Each of the Triple Crown races boasts its own official cocktail, but the mint julep is the only one with staying power. First introduced as the official tipple in 1938, things have remained pretty much the same since, with Old Forester acting as this year’s official bourbon whisky. All told, about 120,000 mint juleps are served per year at the race, using more than 10,000 bottles of bourbon, 1,000 pounds of fresh mint, and 60,000 pounds of crushed ice.
Come race time, if you’re not partying up in Louisville, raise a julep at home with the official recipe.