The Kentucky Derby is the most stylish of all the major spectator sporting events. Its audience, whether at Churchill Downs or even just watching it on TV, always gets dappered up, trading ball caps and team jerseys for gorgeous hats and seersucker suits. It’s actually fun to spectate the spectators. And to complement all this schmanciness the Derby has its own official cocktail: the Mint Julep, the prettiest drink served in a silver Julep cup with a spray of mint leaves and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Which is why when throwing your own Derby Day watching party, Mint Juleps are a must. Fortunately, bartender Billy Ray, the first ever brand ambassador for Woodford Reserve as well as creator of Mixwell premium cocktail mixers, was kind enough to share his tips for how to keep your guests thoroughly Juleped. The secret is to first batch a bunch of traditional Mint Juleps with which to welcome your guests. Really quick and easy to do just before they start walking in the door.
Party-Size Mint Julep
by Billy Ray, Woodford Reserve
1 liter Woodford Reserve bourbon
8 oz mint simple syrup*
In a Julep cup add 2.5 oz of the batch. Fill with crush iced. Add 2 mint sprigs and dust with powder sugar. Add straw and serve.
*Mint simple syrup: In a pan add 4 cups of cold filtered water and 8 mint leaves. Bring to the boil and remove mint. Turn off heat and add 4 cups of demerara sugar. Stir in the sugar till you have a clear mass and set aside to chill.
And then present them with your DIY Mint Julep bar where they can build and customize their own cocktails as many times as they want. This will free you up to mingle and catch the race yourself.
World’s Best Julep Station
- liters of bourbon
- large pan filled with crushed ice
- herbs like basil, sage, thyme and, of course, mint displayed in mason jars filled with ice and cold water
- bowls of stone fruit as well as berries like raspberry, blackberries and strawberries
- mint syrup, honey syrup and agave syrup
Happy Derby Day!