This Year's Top-Shelf Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps Will Cost A Mint

By Vicki Arkoff, editor

Instead of betting on the ponies at Churchill Downs during this year's Kentucky Derby, a tastier choice might be to invest your money in a sure thing: the world's most expensive mint juleps.

For the 2017 Kentucky Derby on May 6, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon isn't horsing around. With a respectful nod to the race's traditional libation, the Versailles, Kentucky, bourbon maker has created a new signature mint julep recipe and will be serving them in $1,000 and $2,500 limited-edition cups for the occasion.

The individually-numbered cups feature gold-plated embellishments as an ode to British photographer Eadweard Muybridge's famous "horse-in motion" filmstrip, which discovered how a horse's hooves move while at full gallop. Each $1,000 Noble Cup is accompanied by a gold-plated Woodford Reserve sipping straw. The winner's-circle-worthy Royal Cup ($2,500 each) is gold-plated, comes with a silver straw, and is a limited edition of only 15. Cups can be purchased online here, with proceeds benefitting the Kentucky Derby Museum.

The mint julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Each year, almost 120,000 (much) lower-priced, ready-made mint juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That requires more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.

This year's top-shelf cocktail recipe for the Kentucky Derby puts an English twist on the classic julep in celebration of the race's British origins tracing back to the 1872 Epsom Derby. The 2017 julep, created by Woodford Reserve global ambassador Tom Vernon, is inspired by the classic English Pimm's cup, and features thoroughbred ingredients such as Earl Grey tea bitters and fresh mint.