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Make a mint julep to show your Kentucky Derby spirit

Just because you're not lucky enough to get one of the 120,000 mint juleps expected to be served at the May 5 Kentucky Derby doesn't mean you can't indulge in this bourbon delight at home while you watch the race.

Early Times Kentucky Bourbon is the official spirit of the Derby and here is the recipe that will be used to make the mint juleps served at Churchill Downs.

There's some controversy over whether or not the sugar and mint leaves should be muddled to make the perfect mint julep. The official recipe calls for a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) that's infused with mint while resting overnight in the fridge. The recipe below calls for powdered sugar to be muddled with mint leaves.

MINT JULEP

4 fresh mint sprigs

2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey

1 tsp powdered sugar

2 tsp water

Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar and water in a collins glass. Fill the glass with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve with a straw.

This Oaks Lily recipe is more my taste. It uses vodka instead of bourbon with sweet sour mix, cranberry juice and triple sec. It's the official Drink of the Kentucky Oaks, the fillies' race that's run the night before the Derby.

If you're having a large crowd, you might consider this one gallon punch that uses a entire (750 ml) bottle of Woodford Reserve.

WOODFORD RESERVE PUNCH

2 cups unsweetened ice tea

1 cup sugar

1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice

1 12-ounce can frozen limeade

1 750 ml bottle of Woodford Reserve

7 cups water

Mix all ingredients and chill. Makes one gallon.

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