Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Kentucky Derby

Mark and Graham

The Kentucky Derby is coming soon - Saturday May 7th. I love thoroughbred horse racing - I almost married someone who owned race horses and have been to lots of tracks both here and in Europe, but I always especially loved going to the Kentucky Derby. And I love a great mint julep. Can anyone spot a big no-no in the photo above?

The liquor bottle in the picture is Bulleit Rye. I actually really like both Bulleit Bourbon and Rye and have visited the distillery and met the owner who is a hoot. A few years ago I did the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for my birthday and really enjoyed it - I am a bourbon drinker. But a mint julep is always made with bourbon, not with rye. I suspect they liked the fact that the rye label is green matching the green tray, limes, and mint. And I just found a second faux pas - a mint julep is always made with crushed ice, not big pieces like they have used.

Here are some fun derby ideas and my favorite classic mint julep recipe. This recipe calls for Bulleit Bourbon but any really good bourbon works great - Maker's Mark, Woodford Reserve, or Basil Hayden are other nice choices.

Town and Country

The Classic Mint Julep


1.3 oz Bulleit Bourbon

.75 oz simple syrup or a teaspoon sugar

4 mint leaves and a sprig of mint (use tender, young sprigs, which last longer and look better)


Prepare some very cold very dry crushed ice. "Bruise" the mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup with sugar syrup. Add ice to the three quarter mark and half of the bourbon. Stir to chill the julep cup. Top off with more powdered ice and the remaining bourbon and continue to stir until the outside of the cup begins to freeze. Garnish with the mint sprig and set aside to rest while the julep cup freezes over on the outside. Pick up carefully to imbibe.

Silver Trophy Ice Bucket

I like the white hydrangeas in the ice bucket in the inspiration photo at top. Speaking of ice buckets, I passed on buying this Oscar de la Renta Champagne bucket (now long discontinued) years ago and it still haunts me. 

Oscar de la Renta Champagne Bucket

Another shot

Silver Horse Cocktail Picks

Horse Guest Towels

This is a great price for this set of 4 mint julep cups - other websites are selling the same set for up to $329.00.

Set of 4 Mint Julep Cups

I love hats and have a big collection and of course always wear one for a Derby Party. For those of you NOVA peeps, this is at the Morrison House in Old Town Alexandria.



  1. Mistake No. 2: They also put a lime in the julep. We don't do that here! Again, I think they were going for more green.

    1. You are so right. I think they wanted something for the horse picks to skewer. Good catch!

  2. In the inspiration photo, first time I've ever seen limes in a mint julep. And I'm a 6th generation southerner!

  3. I love to watch all of the triple crown races, even though I have never attended one, and I know nothing about horses or horse racing. I do love horses though, as I love all animals. I had a friend in high school who rode from the time she was very young. (She is now my investment advisor!) There is something special about them. They are beautiful, amazing and majestic creatures.

    I'm looking forward to the Kentucky Derby, and thank you for the Mint Julep recipe, Beth. (Care to wager on who the winner will be?)

    1. I love horses and rode for many years. I have been to all the Triple Crown many times, especially the Preakness being an hour from DC. I like the racing at Saratoga Springs in New York the best. A lovely spot in August. Epicenter is the horse to beat.

  4. My hubby uses Bulleit Rye to prepare an occasional Fig Manhattan for me. Divine.

    1. A Manhattan is my cocktail of choice and I prefer a good rye. That sounds wonderful.