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Louisville Gems: Mint Julep

By Kimberly Tate, Content Specialist, American Gem Society

With the Kentucky Derby following Conclave, we thought we’d get you in the mood with one of Kentucky’s most iconic drinks, the mint julep.

Named the official drink of Churchill Downs in 1938, and famously served in a silver cup, an estimated 120,000 mint juleps are consumed over the two-day period, which requires over 10,000 bottles of bourbon, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice (GMA, 2022).

Although the mint julep is tied to the Kentucky Derby, its origins are far from Kentucky.

Centuries ago, there was an Arabic drink called julab, made with water and rose petals. Mint julep replaced the rose petals for mint in the Mediterranean, and the famous drink was born. Its aroma was a major selling point. (Gurgl, 2020)

Welcome a little Louisville into your home ahead of Conclave 2023 with this easy-to-follow mint julep recipe we found on Louisville Tourism, a local travel website filled with all things Louisville, including events, attractions, and news!

Instructions: Add one tablespoon of mint syrup and two ounces of bourbon to a silver julep cup or a cup of your choice! Then add crushed ice while stirring till frost forms. Mound ice on top, garnish generously with mint, and serve with a straw.

Want to step up your mint julep? Make your own simple syrup by boiling two cups of sugar and two cups of water till dissolved. Once cooled, add six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, and refrigerate overnight.

Bonus: Have a sweet tooth? Give this Mint Julep Bundt Cake recipe a try from Louisville Tourism!

After you’ve had a taste of your homemade mint julep, you’ll be ready to take a mint julep journey around Louisville!

Experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which offers various tours that conveniently depart from the inside of Omni Hotel’s Falls City Market. Click here to learn more!

McCarthy, K. (2022, May 3). How the mint julep became an iconic Kentucky Derby cocktail and the official recipe to make it at home. Good Morning America.

Glission, V. Mint Julep. Louisville Tourism.

10 Absolutely Fabulous Facts You Must Know About Mint Julep. Gurgl, 2020.