All eyes are on the state of Kentucky this time of year and it is for one reason, the Kentucky Derby! It is the annual event that brings everyone and their fancy hats to enjoy horse racing and of course indulge in a mint julep. I have the perfect mint julep recipe that will make your Kentucky Derby party the one to be at. You might not have the best derby hat or place your bet on the right horse but I have my best bourbon picks for your mint juleps that will make them the star of your event!
The actual recipe for a classic mint julep is not a difficult one. You do not need to be a master bartender to muddle mint and sugar. But there are some tips to make your mint juleps stand out.
First is the ice! The best is shaved ice. It makes the drink! There are people that may tell you otherwise but trust me, go ahead and shave it and thank me later!
Next up is bourbon. You need to know a little bit about bourbon to pick the perfect one for your julep. My husband fancies himself a bit of a bourbon snob and I have picked up quite the pallet for it as well.
What really makes a bourbon the right choice for a julep is all in the taste that you are going for. With mint and sugar, this drink can ride heavily on the sweet side which is why many people opt for a spicier Rye based bourbon. What separates a bourbon from a whiskey is all in its mash bill. Which I can tell you about some other time, but for today lets just stick to taste! If you like a heartier, spicy bourbon to cut down on the sweetness my top choices are Four Roses Single Barrel, Bulleit and Jim Beam Signature Craft High Rye. All of these bourbons will give your julep the spicy bite that will cut into the sweetness and give it a bold flavor.
If you prefer the sweeter end of cocktails than you want to stick to a bourbon that is more wheated. These bourbon’s land on the tongue smooth and with less bite and keep that sweetness in your julep. My suggestions for these are Larceny, Makers Mark and Rebel Yell.
Now to confuse to even further you can get a bourbon that is closely weighted in rye and wheat. These bourbons are are great for those who don’t know their bourbon identity yet and just want a classic smooth tasting bourbon whiskey that will delight anyone looking for a classic mint julep. These also happen to be my go to favorite bourbons in general so if you are looking for a classic mint julep and pallet will appreciate than your best bet is Woodford Reserve or Buffalo Trace.
Truly, what makes a great mint julep recipe is the bourbon so make a choice worth drinking! Your Kentucky Derby party guests will appreciate the work you put into the recipe!