Are your seersucker suits pressed? Your gigantic Derby hats ready? It's just mere days from the Kentucky Derby, or as we like to call it, our excuse to get dressed in our Southern best and drink the classic mint julep. Much as Cinco de Mayo is synonymous with margaritas, Derby Day is synonymous with our minty cocktail of choice.
Of course, when you're whipping up mint juleps for your Derby parties (or making your own mint julep bar), you can update the classic cocktail recipe for a surprising new twist. That includes new flavors of simple syrups, additional fruits and vegetables (like cucumbers or strawberries), and even spirits beyond the classic Kentucky bourbon. From San Francisco to New York, bartenders are redefining just the basic tenets of the mint julep. But that doesn't mean you should ignore the standard Derby Day drink; thanks to the good people at Maker's Mark, we show you how to make the perfect mint julep for your party with a foolproof recipe.
Like any cocktail, there are tricks to doing the mint julep just right — and it's not always as easy to master. Some easy tips to remember when mixing a mint julep: use a strong bourbon (90-proof or higher), don't overmuddle your mint to capture the full aromas, and, if using the standard crushed ice, hand-crush it yourself and try to drain the excess water, as to not dilute the drink. If you're using a pre-chilled julep glass, David Wondrich notes, a wet ice won't do. Click ahead to find the ultimate julep recipes for all of your Kentucky Derby needs.
This article was originally published April 29, 2013.