Catstudio Kentucky Derby dish towel from High Street Fly. | Woodford Reserve julep cup from Woodford Reserve Gift Shop. | Kentucky Derby 143 Official Mint Julep Glass | Louisville Stoneware julep cups from Maker's Mark and Buffalo Trace Distilleries.
The mint julep is the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. It's also one of the most maligned and misunderstood. A julep can be a lovely and refreshing cocktail when you use good bourbon, a fresh simple syrup and just-picked mint sprigs.
The first step to a great julep party is variety. Set up tasting stations so your guests can sample juleps made from different bourbon expressions. It's a great way to determine how the drink works for your palate. Some folks swear a julep needs to be in the traditional silver cup, others want a traditional Derby Glass, and some of us love the feel of a Louisville Stoneware Julep Cup. (The Stoneware cups are my favorite because they keep your drink cold without the condensation of a metal cup!
Bar towels from Maker's Mark and Woodford Reserve Distilleries. Rose garland from Etsy seller thekindpilot.
You're bound to have some guests who don't want a julep -- there's always that Kentuckian -- so stock some bourbons and ryes that are good for sipping or for making other, less Derby-approved cocktails.
To learn more about the mint julep, visit the Kentucky Derby Book website, where you'll see a video of Woodford Reserve's Chief Entertainment Officer Tim Laird making the perfect mint julep and read more about the classic mint julep cocktail with Woodford Reserve Master Taster Elizabeth McCall.
The Kentucky Derby by Bill Doolittle is a wonderful companion to the Greatest Two Minutes in Horse Racing. The book's Digimarc technology allows you to experience live video of Derby races, Derby fashion, and traditions like the mint julep directly on your smartphone! You can buy the hardback coffee table book here, or you can download the eBook from Amazon or iTunes.
(This post was sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Book. All opinions are my own.)