History of the Mint Julep
The Mint Julep Cocktail has been promoted by Churchill Downs in association with the Kentucky Derby since 1938. In a contract arrangement between the Brown-Forman Corporation and Churchill Downs, the Mint Julep Cocktail was designated “official drink of the Kentucky Derby”. Each year almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at Churchill Downs over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, virtually all of them in specially made Kentucky Derby collectible cups.
A Traditional Drink
The term “Julep” is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine. A Mint Julep is traditionally made with four ingredients: mint leaf, bourbon, sugar and water. Traditionally, spearmint is the mint of choice used in southern states. This mint and sugar combo is very similar to a mojito.
The Mint Julep Cup
The Mint Julep Cup is very popular throughout the South, and has long been a symbol of achievement, esteem, and prestige. For over 200 years
Americans have used their Julep cups at events like christenings, weddings, fairs and of course, the races. Traditionally, Mint Juleps cups are made in sterling silver, silverplate, or pewter. These cups are held only by the bottom and top edges of the cup, as this allows frost to form on the outside of the cup.
Many of the southern states have their own unique and distinctive cup styles, including Classic, Beaded, and Threaded. Best known is the Classic style from Kentucky; the Classic American beaker was remade into a Julep Cup with a straight body lines and graceful moldings at the base and rim. This Kentucky Mint Julep Cup originates from early American Silversmiths and craftsmen Asa Blanchard of Lexington and William and Archibald Cooper of Louisville. Nowadays, these styles are manufactured by the world’s most prestigious silversmiths like Godinger, Empire, and Reed & Barton.
Here are a few links to recipes for different Mint Juleps. As we approach the Kentucky Derby this year, perhaps you might want to join in the tradition and enjoy a frosty Mint Julep!