Derby Day is tomorrow, and you can't celebrate without a good Mint Julep. Over 120,000 of these bad boys will be served up at Churchill Downs this weekend, most of them in awesome Derby collectible glasses. I can't make it to Louisville this year to get an official Mint Julep, but nothing is stopping me from making them at home!

A Mint Julep is traditionally made with mint, bourbon, sugar, and water. You place the mint in the bottom of a glass with the sugar and water and muddle them together before pouring in your sweet, delicious bourbon. Juleps are served "on the rocks" and garnished with mint.

I am not a fan of the traditional method, as I think the muddled mint leaves are way gross. Here's what I do instead: make a mint-infused simple syrup. In a saucepan, mix two parts sugar into one part boiling water. Dissolve the sugar completely then toss in your mint leaves. You could use peppermint or spearmint extracts instead. One year, I just tossed a handful of those little round, red-and-white peppermints in and dissolved them in the hot water. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool and thicken. I store mine in a little squeeze bottle.

To make Meg's Mint Julep, mix bourbon and mint syrup to taste. Shake gently and then pour over ice. Garnish with mint leaves and GET YOUR DERBY ON. Sometimes I add a splash of ginger ale because that's just how I roll.

When it comes to bourbon these are my top five.

  • Four Roses (William Faulkner's drink of choice, BTW)
  • Woodford Reserve (they make a $1,000 Mint Julep which is sold exlusively at the Derby. It comes in a silver glass with a silver straw and is made from single-batch bourbon and some ridiculously extravagant extras. I bet this is what Beyonce and Jay-Z or Justin Timberlake get at the Derby. Straight Baller.)
  • Bulleit 
  • Maker's Mark (Fun Meg fact: I toured the Maker's distillery once. They give out free samples. I may or may not have gotten extra free samples and then attempted to dip my thumb in the famous red wax. Don't judge. LOL.)
  • Basil Hayden's

Jim Beam didn't make my Top Five, but is always a solid and affordable choice. Whatever you choose, make sure it is BOURBON and not just whiskey. Don't know the diff? Check out this handy tutorial from the Jim Beam team.

*You can make a non-alcoholic Julep, too. I make mine with apple juice, ginger ale, and mint simple syrup.

Make sure you've got your Juleps ready for the Run for the Roses tomorrow. Happy Derby, y'all!


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