The Kentucky Derby, or "the greatest two minutes in sports," is this Saturday, May 4, but don't worry — there's still time to press your seersucker suit, find a fabulous hat, and gather the ingredients you'll need for round after round of mint juleps.
The Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, has been partnering with the Kentucky Derby for the last two decades, and to honor that collaboration we've put together a few fun facts about the famous Southern cocktail.
Read on to learn more, then stock up on Woodford Reserve bourbon, the Derby's official presenting sponsor, before Saturday.
80 years and counting
The mint julep has been the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby since 1939, shortly after Prohibition ended. Traditionally, juleps are made using ice, simple syrup, mint, and bourbon.
If you're feeling extra fancy ...
For the last 14 years, Woodford Reserve has been selling a limited-edition julep served in an actual silver or gold cup. Made using local ingredients — some as local as from the actual race track — the special cocktail always sells out. The price for these posh drinks? $1,000 for a silver cup and $2,500 for gold.
Drink for a good cause
Each year, Woodford Reserve selects a charitable organization to receive the net proceeds from the silver mint julep cups sold at the Kentucky Derby. To date, more than $600,000 has been raised for equine and humanitarian causes. This year's recipient is the John Asher Memorial Scholarship Fund at Western Kentucky University. Asher was a longtime vice president of racing communications and spokesman of Churchill Downs who was beloved by many; he died suddenly in August 2018 at age 62.
Participate from afar
Can't attend the actual race? There are still ways to feel part of the action. Some of the special mint julep cups are still for sale at www.woodfordreserve.com, or you can purchase this year's limited edition Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Kentucky Derby bottle. The commemorative bottle features artwork by Keith Anderson, who during the day works at the Bourbon Street Cafe inside the Brown-Forman headquarters. It's the second year in a row that this budding artist has had the honor of being featured on the highly sought-after bottle.
How to make the 2019 Kentucky Derby mint julep cocktail:
2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight bourbon
2 bar spoons of Inspired honey sweetener
2 mint leaves
Shaved honeycomb and a sprig of mint for garnish
Rub mint around the julep cup to express the essential oils, and place the mint leaf in the bottom of the cup.
Drizzle 2 bar spoons of honey sweetener in the cup, add 2 oz. of bourbon, and mix the ingredients together.
Pack ice into the cup, then place the sipping straw.
Layer loose ice on top, with a splash of bourbon to settle your drink.
Garnish with shaved honeycomb and a sprig of mint.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45.2% Alc. by Vol. The Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY. WOODFORD RESERVE is a registered trademark. ©2018 Brown-Forman. All rights reserved. CRAFTED CAREFULLY. DRINK RESPONSIBLY.