>Kentucky Derby Classic Cocktail -the Mint Julep- Can Star Every Day
By Francine Cohen
Less than six hours from now those colts, geldings, and fillies will be bursting through the gate for the ride of their lives. As their owners and millions of viewers around the world, including those fortunate enough to get a ticket to be within spitting distance of the Winners Circle at Churchill Downs, watch the two most exciting minutes in sports, nothing pairs better with this experience than the classic Southern drink, the Mint Julep.
A simple mix of bourbon, cracked ice, sugar and mint, this refreshing drink has its heyday every year on the first Saturday in May. Interestingly enough, while it is best known for being the official drink of the Derby, Chris Morris, Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve Bourbon and American spirits historian notes, “The julep has its roots, surprisingly, in the Arab world. Centuries ago, there was an Arabic drink called julab, made with water and rose petals. The beverage had a delicate and refreshing scent that people thought would instantly enhance the quality of their lives.” When the julab was introduced to the Mediterranean region, the native population replaced the rose petals with mint, a plant indigenous to the area. The mint julep, as it was now called, grew in popularity throughout Europe.”
He continues, “The biggest change for the julep was the addition of American whiskey to the recipe. The flavorful American whiskey perfectly complemented the mint julep. The julep was quickly transformed into a mixture of water, sugar, mint leaves, and good American whiskey.”
According to culinary history, the drink’s popularity rose amongst those farmers rising at dawn on their farms in the eastern and southeastern United States. Along with the farmers getting up early, so too did the horse trainers who would mix up a julep the same way we reach for our coffee press or push that coffeemaker button.
“You see, the julep was originally a morning drink. It was the spirited equivalent of coffee in today’s society. Just the drink needed to get the morning started and the ultimate picker-upper,” explains Morris.
Through the years, the drink started showing up at regional horse races, where the mint julep made the transition from a morning drink to a “sipping” cocktail.
In keeping with tradition, Woodford Reserve®, as the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby®, serves up over 140,000 juleps for horse race aficionados to sip at Churchill Downs between Oaks and Derby Day. In honor of the 89th year that the Kentucky Derby winner has been awarded the gold trophy just 89 of these discerning drinkers will be enjoying their juleps brushed with the Midas touch.
Celebrating the gold standard that Woodford Reserve has set by winning gold medals at every major spirits competition, Woodford presents the world’s most exclusive julep cup – the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cup. Each features exclusive gold-influenced ingredients and comes with a unique Golden Opportunity auction experience that puts the winning bidder in the Winner’s Circle on Kentucky Derby Day. Proceeds will benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center.
The cups were available for purchase online from April 15-May 2 at www.woodfordreservemintjulep.com. 79 Distinguished Cups were available for $1,000 each featuring a hand-engraved Thoroughbred and rider from atop the Kentucky Derby gold trophy and a gold-plated garland of roses. Available for auction with starting bids of $2,000, 9 Legendary Cups display a gold-plated Thoroughbred and rider medallion with brilliant cut diamonds. One Legendary Cup was also included in the Golden Opportunity auction experience package with an opening bid of $5,000. The winning bidder will present the trophy for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day and also enjoy a private tour and dinner at Woodford Reserve Distillery plus a private tour of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center with a Hall of Fame jockey.
Owners of the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cup will enjoy their mint julep today featuring a unique set of gold-inspired ingredients: ice made of gold-filtered mineral water sourced from the easternmost reaches of Nova Scotia; mint leaves dusted with gold and grown in Woodford County, Ky.; Woodford Gold sorghum from Woodford County, Ky.; and gold medal-winning Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select bourbon. The 89 cups will be presented only on Kentucky Derby Day, May 4, 2013.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an icy cold julep this evening, or any day, just because you don’t have the golden cup into which to pour it or a horse in the race; make yourself a julep at any time with Woodford’s Kentucky Derby commemorative bottle and it’ll be just like you were there. Riding for the roses.
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• Sprigs of fresh mint
• Crushed ice
• 2 oz. bourbon (your favorite brand)
• Silver Julep Cups
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.