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Celebrate Derby Day with these mint julep recipes

There's really only one drink you should be sipping on during the Kentucky Derby.

The mint julep, typically made with bourbon, sugar, water and mint, is known as the signature drink at Churchill Downs, the racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky that hosts the Derby each year.

If you're hosting a Derby day party instead of celebrating at a local bar -- or just want to sip on a sweet cocktail -- here are some New York City spins on the classic drink.

Slowly Shirley's Pineapple Julep

This take on the julep, from Jim Kearns
Photo Credit: Slowly Shirley

This take on the julep, from Jim Kearns of Slowly Shirley, combines pineapple-infused bourbon with a touch of rum for a fruity twist.

2 1/4 oz. pineapple-infused Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon

1/4 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap rum

1/4 oz. brown sugar syrup

7 mint sprigs

To infuse the bourbon, cut one pineapple into one-inch cubes, then place in a 1-gallon container with a 750mL bottle of bourbon. Let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours. Make the brown sugar syrup, by combining 2 lbs of brown sugar and 1 lb of water, stirring over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then, combine the syrup, two mint sprigs, and infused bourbon in a large shaker to muddle. Next, strain into a chilled glass, and top with crushed ice and rum. Serve with mint sprigs for decoration.

Virgil's Maker's Mark Mint Julep

Virgil's beverage director Erin Ward's sweet take on
Photo Credit: Virgil's BBQ

Virgil's beverage director Erin Ward's sweet take on the mint julep serves 15, a great option for those hosting a large gathering.

1 bunch mint, sprigs reserved for garnish

1 liter bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon

1 1/2 cups simple syrup

1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for garnish

Chop up the mint, leaving the sprigs for garnish, and add to the bottle of Maker's Mark. Let steep for 24 hours, and then strain out the mint. In a pitcher, mix the bourbon with the simple syrup, then pour into glasses filled with crushed ice, and garnish each glass with a mint sprig and powdered sugar.

The Liberty NYC's Big Bourbon Apple Julep

The Liberty NYC's beverage master Niccole Trzaska adds
Photo Credit: The Liberty NYC

The Liberty NYC's beverage master Niccole Trzaska adds a big apple twist to her mint julep.

2 parts Maker's Mark Bourbon

1 part brown sugar simple syrup

1 part apple cider

8 mint leaves

For simple syrup, combine equal parts brown sugar and hot water until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add mint leaves and brown sugar simple syrup into a julep glass and gently muddle. Then, add Maker's Mark, crushed ice to top and garnish with a heart-shaped sliced red apple and mint sprig.

Fishbowl at Dream Midtown's Mint Julep

Beverage director Drew Sweeney lets the bourbon do
Photo Credit: Fishbowl at Dream Midtown

Beverage director Drew Sweeney lets the bourbon do the talking in his straightforward mint julep, infusing the mint in the simple syrup instead of muddling the leaves in the glass.

1 oz. Woodford Bourbon

3 fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon mint simple syrup

Combine the bourbon, mint leaves and simple syrup into a glass. Add ice and splash of soda water and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Eleven Madison Park's Mint Julep

This high-end eatery's take on the mint julep
Photo Credit: Eleven Madison Park

This high-end eatery's take on the mint julep involves infusing bourbon with mint before making the cocktail.

2 1/2 oz. minted bourbon

1/2 oz. demerara syrup

5 mint leaves

To infuse the bourbon, combine 60 grams of mint and 1 liter of bourbon, letting sit for about 8 minutes before removing the mint leaves. To make the cocktail, start by wiping the inside of your cup with the mint before placing the leaves at the bottom. Then, add the demerara syrup, using a swizzle stick to tap the mint lightly. Add the bourbon, crushed ice and a swizzle. Then, fill with more crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Maison Premiere's Barber of Seville

Madison Premiere's mint julep variation by Will Elliott
Photo Credit: Maison Premiere

Madison Premiere's mint julep variation by Will Elliott is a radiant red, thanks to some sherry.

1/2 oz. Old Overholt

3/4 oz. Cappelletti

1 oz. Hidalgo Manzanilla

1/4 oz. Orgeat syrup

1/2 vial orange flower water

1/2 oz. lemon juice

3 dash orange bitters

Marcona almonds

Orange zest

Shake ingredients over ice and pour into a julep tin over crushed ice. Garnish with shaved Marcona almonds, a bit of orange zest and, if you have one, a cocktail parasol.

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