Thursday, May 3, 2012

Derby Day, Mint Juleps At The Governor's House (Reprise)

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For those of you new to the blog, here is a reprint of a post I did a couple of year's ago. 

 I love the Kentucky Derby and  whether I am alone, with  friends or giving the party,I always make myself a mint julep to watch the race .  The recipe for the one served at the Governor's House is the one I make and can be found at the bottom of the post.  Joseph The Butler also has one posted in his blog with great pictures. Your choice!

 Many of you are probably too young to remember the Derby in the days of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Alydar. The first three were all Triple Crown winners; the last, Alydar , was Affirmed's  neck- to- neck rival in all three races.  He was beautiful and rumored to have been named after Prince Aly Kahn, the Aga Kahn's son and one of Rita Hayworth's husband.  He was my favorite (the horse, not the Prince) and any other year, he would have also been a TC winner. 

Those were the great days of racing and the most exciting derbys I have ever watched.  No horse has ever come close to the excitement given by those four thoroughbreds.  Since Affirmed took the title in 1978, there has been no Triple Crown winner.

Also in the same year I posted a Derby Menu, something you might want to check out if you decide to have a group of friends at the last minute. Oh, and here is a new hat!

Derby Day, Mint Juleps At The Governor's House
Originally posted April, 2010

It's the drink synonymous with the Run for the Roses, and indeed on Derby Day, vast amounts of Mint Juleps are sipped under cover of splashy hats.

 The classic Kentucky Derby drink requires the perfect balance of mint, sweetness, and bourbon.  The one you will see below was the one prepared at the Governor's Party after the Derby when John Y. Brown (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was the Governor and Phyllis George Brown (Miss America) the First Lady of Kentucky.  Remember Chicken By George?

Stay tuned for my Derby Party Menu tomorrow!


A mint julep is traditionally made of four ingredients: mint, bourbon, sugar, and water. Traditionally, spearmint is the mint of choice used in Southern states; in particular, Kentucky Colonel. In the use of sugar and mint, it is similar to the mojito. In preparing a mint julep, a fresh mint sprig is used primarily as a garnish, to introduce the flavor and aroma through the nose. If mint leaves are used in the preparation, they should just be very lightly bruised, if at all. However, proper preparation of the cocktail is commonly debated, as methods may vary considerably from one bartender to another. By another method, the mint julep may be considered as one of a loosely associated family of drinks called "smashes" (the brandy smash is another example, as well as the mojito), in which fresh mint and other ingredients are muddled or crushed in preparation for flavoring the finished drink. The step further releases essential oils and juices into the mixture, intensifying the flavor from the added ingredient or ingredients.

Kentucky Colonel Mint

Traditionally, mint juleps were often served in silver or pewter cups, and held only by the bottom and top edges of the cup. This allows frost to form on the outside of the cup. Traditional hand placement may have arisen as a way to reduce the heat transferred from the hand to the silver or pewter cup. Today, mint juleps are most commonly served in a tall old-fashioned glass, Collins glass, or highball glass with a straw.


The origins of the mint julep are clouded and may never be definitively known. The first appearance of a mint julep in print came in a book by John Davis published in London in 1803, where it was described as "a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning." However, Davis did not specify that bourbon was the spirit used. The mint julep originated in the southern United States, probably during the eighteenth century. U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the drink to Washington, D.C., at the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel during his residence in the city. The term 'julep' is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine. The word itself is derived from Arabic: ماء ورد‎ Māʾ ward and Persian: گلاب Golâb, meaning rose water. Americans enjoyed not only bourbon based juleps during the nineteenth century, but also gin based juleps made with genever, an aged gin. However, bourbon based juleps have recently decisively eclipsed gin based juleps.

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival and is widely considered the most prestigious horse race in the world. The race is one and a quarter miles (2 km) at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57.2 kg) and fillies 121 pounds (54.9 kg). The race is known in the United States as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" or "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate duration, and is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. It is the first leg of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing and is followed by the Preakness Stakes then the Belmont Stakes. The attendance at the Kentucky Derby ranks first in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders' Cup.

The mint julep is well-known as the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, a position it has held since 1938. Each year almost 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs over the two day period of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. For over 18 years, the Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail has been the designated "official mint julep of the Kentucky Derby". Early Times is a brand of Kentucky whiskey which was first distilled in 1860. The brand became popular during 1920s. During the prohibition in the US, this whiskey was exempt from the law, having been designated as "medicinal whiskey".

Mint Juleps at the Governor's House

Serves 12

3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 bunches fresh mint, divided
24 oz. (3 cups) Kentucky bourbon
Crushed ice

Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes until thick and clear.  While hot, stir in 1 bunch of mint sprigs.  Let cool.  Then strain the syrup into a small container and discard the mint.

When ready to serve, pour two ounces (1/4 cup) bourbon and 2 oz syrup into each ice filled, frosted cup.  Add a sprig of mint.

Some may find this a bit sweet, in which case only add 1 ounce of syrup to 2 ounces of bourbon and that way everyone can be happy! don't forget the sprig of mint!

Photo top Charles Walton
others from Google images


  1. Julieta I adore watching and of course my dream is to be there for the event wearing and oh so fabulous hat and spring frock!!

    I have featured an Interview with Tina from The Enchanted Home...


    Art by Karena

  2. Thank you for the link. And what a great compilation of information you've put together here. Nice work.


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