Beyond the Mint Julep: Cocktails For The Kentucky Derby

Drink Lists Mint Julep
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Beyond the Mint Julep: Cocktails For The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby takes place this weekend. Known as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” the horse race is celebrating its 142nd race this Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. While the race itself is exciting (you don’t get nicknamed the “greatest two minutes in sports” for nothing), the event is perhaps most well-known for the social aspect, specifically the drinking a mint juleps. A long-time staple of the races, at the track you can get the mixture of bourbon, mint, and sugar in an ice-frosted silver julep cup. The drink is also popular at home parties where the race is being watched.

While we’re never one to turn down a nice mint julep, we thought this year it might be nice to offer a few different takes on the popular drink. Below you’ll find some riffs on the classic julep and whisky smash from bartenders in Portland and Seattle, as well as a few bonus drinks that are bound to impress at your Derby party this weekend.

The Lookout

From the 2016 official Derby sponsor, Pepsi


4 oz. 1893 Ginger
1 ¼ oz. Bourbon
Mint, muddled

Directions: Muddle mint and bourbon in a rocks glass. Add crushed ice and top with cola. Stir and garnish with additional mint.

Blue Moon Julep

From Sazerac (Seattle, WA) Lead Bartender, Keith Villanueva


2.5 oz. Buffalo Trace Single Barrel Bourbon
0.5 oz. Mint Syrup
3 Dashes House-Made Mint Bitters

Directions: Build in Julep Cup over crushed ice, top with more crushed ice, garnish with mint spring and dash of powdered sugar

Smoky Mountain Sipper

From Red Star Tavern (Portland, OR) Lead Bartender, Brandon Lockman


1.5 oz. bourbon
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. blackberry puree
.25 oz. fernet
Couple sprigs of mint

Directions: Combine all ingredients, shake and strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.

Bourbon Sherry Julep

From Bookstore Bar & Café (Seattle, WA) Bartender Kevin Langmack


1 oz. Bourbon(Buffalo Trace)
1 oz. Sherry blend (using equal parts Lustau Pedro Ximenez, Fino, and East India Solera)
Add straws and mound crushed ice on top
Fresh mint garnish

Directions: In a Lewis bag crush 4-5 scoops of ice. Place 4-6 sprigs in the bottom of a julep cup and add .25 oz simple syrup and give a light muddle. Top Julep cup with ice and add the bourbon and sherry. Add more ice, a straw and mint garnish.

Root Julep

From Tulio (Seattle, WA) Bartender Matt Slocum


1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1.5 oz. Maker’s Mark Bourbon
0.5 oz. Root Liqueur
Few sprigs of mint

Directions: Muddle mint with sugar, top with crushed ice. Add Maker’s Mark and Root Liqueur, stir. Garnish with a smacked mint leaf.