With the huge popularity of mint juleps, especially during Kentucky Derby season, it’s hard to imagine that there once was a time when they were considered blasé and uncool, and it wasn’t too long ago. Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, along with their Master Distiller Chris Morris, divulged to us that back in 1999 they became the first official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, and it was then that they decided to bring back the mint julep.
Originally touted as a medicinal drink, thanks to its ingredients whiskey, sugar and mint, which all help to calm the stomach, it is now more known as a relaxing cocktail and the perfect party drink. Because of its simple ingredients, it’s easy to make and easy to cater to your tastes; you can make it however you like! So it’s no wonder why there are over 140,000 mint juleps sold on Kentucky Derby day alone. And one drink should last you about an hour, or 36 sips.
In the 146 years that the Kentucky Derby has been going on, it has never not run, and even with a pandemic, the show will go on (although it might look a little different). Woodford Reserve is commemorating the occasion with its 2020 Derby bottle, featuring the stunning artwork of Louisville artist Richard Sullivan, who is also a former Atlanta Braves baseball player. The imagery features a watercolor image of thoroughbred horses racing towards the finish line. “My goal was to create a beautiful image of the Kentucky Derby that embodies the spirit of competition, dedication, and freedom that is required to be your best,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to capture this intense moment of competition that is shared between the human and equine athlete. A moment when everything is on the line, time stops, awareness is heightened, mind and body are one, and anything is possible.”
While you watch the Derby from the comfort of your home, a friend’s backyard, or at your local outdoor watering hole, the only way to do it properly is with a Woodford julep. The annual collector’s bottle is available to purchase for $49.99.
Make it at home:
Woodford Reserve Mint Julep
2 oz. Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 fresh mint leaves
Directions: Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice, fresh mint and powdered sugar.
Woodford Reserve Spire
1.5 oz. Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2 oz. lemonade
1 oz. cranberry juice
Directions: Add ingredients to mixing glass and stir. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
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