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Kentucky Derby 2015: Five facts about Mint Juleps and a recipe

Not to be confused with its friend, the mint mojito, mint juleps are a staple at Churchill Downs and at Kentucky Derby parties. 

This year’s Run for the Roses is Saturday, May 2, so there’s still time to find your preppiest pastel or floral dress, don your most floppy hat and hone your mint julep skills. 

According to Kentucky Derby, roughly 120,000 juleps are sold at Churchill Downs each year. Here are five facts you might not know about mint juleps, plus the classic recipe below, for all of you watching the derby from the Hoosier state: 

  1. Keeping up with the demand for the drinks during Derby weekend requires about 1,000 pounds of fresh mint, according to Kentucky Derby. 
  2. Mint is refreshing in any beverage, but remember — juleps are made with bourbon and mojitos are made with rum, as in this recipe from Esquire.
  3. The julep became the official drink of the race in 1938, Food Republic reports.
  4. Mint juleps purchased at Churchill Downs go for about $11 a pop, complete with a souvenir glass, USA Today reports.
  5. Mint juleps stretch back to the early 1800s, but the drink’s popularity soared in the twentieth century, according to Mint Julep Day

Recipe from Kentucky Derby

For those who are watching or celebrating from home with the classic drink.


  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 2 cups water 
  • Fresh mint 
  • Crushed ice 
  • Kentucky bourbon (original recipe uses Old Forester) 
  • Silver julep cups


  1. Make simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. 
  2. Cool and place in covered container with a few sprigs of mint. Let sit in refrigerator overnight. 
  3. Fill a cup with crushed ice and add a tablespoon of the syrup and two ounces of bourbon. Stir well. 
  4. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint. 

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Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter @DanielleWaldron

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