Mint juleps and margaritas: That’s what’s being served this Kentucky Derby-meets-Cinco de Mayo weekend.
The Kentucky Derby is considered one of the most exhilarating two minutes in sports, Tradition dictates that the derby is always held on the first Saturday in May at storied Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Kentucky Derby tradition also dictates that the race is best enjoyed with a mint julep nearby. (And, if you are a lady, a lavish hat won’t hurt, either.)
The cool, refreshing cocktail is served over crushed ice, and is easy to prepare: A little bourbon, some simple syrup, and mint. Garnish with some powdered sugar and a some more mint. What could be easier! [Scroll down for our favorite mint julep recipe, from the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen.]
The mint julep has been the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century, according to the Kentucky Derby Museum.
The drink itself has been a Kentucky tradition for even longer, according to the museum’s website, which says the earliest origins of the drink billed it as a “morning beverage to add a little zip to the day!”
Also in the early days, it was a rum cocktail. It has evolved over the years to be a bourbon-based drink, and is forever affiliated with the Run for the Roses.
It is estimated that more than 120,000 mint juleps will be served in souvenir glasses at the track today. If you are not among those lucky enough to take in the Run for the Roses in person, you have no other alternative but to stir up a batch of mint juleps and enjoy from the comfort of your couch. (Since you won’t have to drive, you can have two.) Allow time to make the simple syrup, and allow it to cool.
Total time: 5 minutes, plus more for simple syrup preparation
--2 tablespoons simple syrup (see below)
--4 fresh mint sprigs
--2/3 cup bourbon
--Pour 1 tablespoon Simple Syrup into tall glass. Add 2 sprigs mint, crushed slightly. Add ice. Stir in 1/3 cup bourbon. Add more ice to fill glass. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with mint. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Makes 2 servings.
--1 cup boiling water
--1 cup sugar
--Stir boiling water into sugar until sugar dissolves. Simple syrup will keep almost indefinitely refrigerated in covered container.