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Mint Julep
Credit: Julie Soefer Photography

Despite the fact that the actual Kentucky Derby Race lasts only minutes long, it's still a great excuse to throw a party.

For a classic, foolproof traditional Mint Julep recipe to sip on while hat-watching and cheering on your favorite jockey-horse duo, we went to superstar mixologist Alba Huerta, owner of the appropriately-named hotspot Julep in Houston.

To make a simple cocktail like this special, quality is key. So instead of a single type of bourbon, Huerta uses a combo of two ryes: 1 part Four Roses (80 proof) and 1 part Old Gran Dad Bonded (100 proof). “We want our julep to hold up to dilution, and the use of both varieties gives us the ideal proof,” she says. “Plus the rye really helps to enhance the mint.”

If you don’t have pricey mint julep cups on hand, go for a clear classic rocks glass. “This can be a good opportunity to add color to the drink by using different liqueurs, bitters, or wine. Feel free to play with the recipe to make a more progressive julep.” No ice crusher? No problem. You can get a similar effect by using a cotton canvas Lewis bag and wooden mallet.


Mint Julep

Serves 1

10-12 mint leaves

1/2 oz. turbinado syrup (recipe follows)

2 oz. of bourbon

In a julep cup, add mint leaves and turbinado syrup. With a muddler, lightly press ingredients together. Add bourbon and remove muddler. Add crushed ice to the julep cup and stir to dilution or about 10 times. Add crushed ice dome and garnish with mint sprig and powdered sugar.

Turbinado Syrup

12 oz. turbinado sugar

6 oz. water

Reduce both ingredients over low flame, stirring occasionally to make sure all contents are dissolved. Set aside and let cool.