Sip a mint julep or a Minty Julep while you watch the Kentucky Derby

Posted on April 30, 2013 

The Minty Julep is made with gin instead of bourbon. Photo by Dawn Minty.

Sipping a mint julep while watching the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, is a tradition. But if bourbon isn't your drink of choice, there are other minty options. Here's a recipe for a classic version and one made with gin. I prefer a gin that has a nice citrus flavor as opposed to a strong juniper taste. For example, Aviation gin will compliment the mint more than Bombay gin.

Classic Mint Julep

4 to 5 mint leaves

2 sugar cubes or 1/2 ounce simple syrup

2 1/2 ounces bourbon

mint sprig for garnish

Place the mint and simple syrup or sugar in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle well to dissolve the sugar and to bruise the mint leaves. Add the bourbon. Fill with crushed ice and stir well until the glass becomes frosty.

Minty Julep

12 mint leaves

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons crushed ice

Ice cubes

2 ounces Aviation Gin

Crushed ice, for serving

Muddle mint leaves, sugar and 2 teaspoons of crushed ice in a shaker. Add gin and ice cubes and shake for two minutes. Pour crushed ice into a serving glass and strain liquid from shaker into glass, omitting muddled mint leaves. Garnish with fresh mint.

Visit kentucky.com for more mint julep recipes including The Early Times mint julep, the official Churchill Downs drink. About 120,000 mint juleps are served at the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby each year.

Looking forward to Cinco de Mayo? Make one of these margaritas to make your May 5th celebration festive.

Basic Margarita

1 1/2 ounces tequila

1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 ounce triple sec

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker and pour into salt-lined margarita glass over ice.

Frozen Strawberry Margaritas

6 ounces tequila

2 ounces triple sec

8 ounces frozen sliced strawberries

4 ounces frozen limeade concentrate

Fill the blender with ice and then pour in tequila, triple sec, strawberries and limeade. Blend until smooth. Serve.

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