Hats Off to the South with a Classic Derby Drink
It is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the country, and for 141 years, the Kentucky Derby has been fascinating horse racing enthusiasts. Affectionately called the “Run for the Roses” and “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports,” the Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday in May, and celebrated with “Derby Parties” from coast to coast. Tradition is key here, and one of the most celebrated traditions is the official drink of the Derby, the mighty Mint Julep.
In fact, almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s a lot of mint and bourbon.
The drink is clearly a Southern passion. In a letter written in 1906, Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. actually refused to give the recipe to the superintendent of the US Military Academy, calling the cocktail “the nectar of the gods,” and declaring “it is a rite that must not be entrusted to a novice, a statistician nor a Yankee!” Times may have changed but the tradition continues.
What’s In A Name?
Although it’s linked to the South, and the Derby, the Julep’s name has its roots in the Arab world. The Julep began centuries ago as an Arabic drink called the “julab,” which was made from water and rose petals. As the julab migrated to the Mediterranean, that region's indigenous mint replaced the rose petals.
The Mint Julep has been served in the South since the early 1700s, and Churchill Downs began mixing them in 1875. Mint Juleps became the track's signature libation in 1938 when the management began charging 75 cents for the drink and the small glass vessel it came in. The drink and glass now cost $11.
Join Us For Juleps
We'll celebrate the Kentucky Derby with special samples on Derby Day:
- Saturday May 2nd, 2015
- St Paul Haskell's will be sampling Uncle Terry's Famous Mint Juleps
- 1:00 pm until Post Time (approximately 5:30 pm)
Uncle Terry's Mint Julep Recipe
What exactly is a Mint Julep? It’s a perfect adult thirst quencher with a Kentucky bourbon base, a little sugar or simple syrup, and mint. And, lots of ice.
- 3 fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon Mint Simple Syrup
- Crushed ice
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bourbon
- 1 (4-inch) cocktail straw or coffee stirrer
- 1 fresh mint sprig
- Powdered sugar (optional)
Then, of course, there is the famous Mint Julep recipe quote from Henry Watterson (1840-1921), Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Louisville Courier-Journal:
“Pluck the mint gently from its bed, just as the dew of the evening is about to form on it. Select the choicer sprigs only, but do not rinse them. Prepare the simple syrup and measure out a half-tumbler of whiskey. Pour the whiskey into a well-frosted silver cup, throw the other ingredients away, and drink the whiskey.
We like that fellow.
Derby guests cannot survive on Juleps alone, so here is an easy shrimp recipe to provide some sustenance – and a bit more bourbon.
- 1 pound frozen, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (45-50 count)
- 2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 4 teaspoons Woodford Reserve bourbon
- 1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
- ½ cup sour cream
- Bourbon smoked paprika
Defrost the shrimp according to the directions on the package. In a small bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil, Cajun seasoning, and bourbon. Stir to combine. Sauté in a hot pan until cooked through and just pink and opaque in color, approximately 3 – 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place a dollop of sour cream on a slice of cucumber and top with a cooked shrimp. Repeat with the remaining cucumber, shrimp and sour cream. Garnish with a dusting of paprika.
In case you hadn’t noticed, bourbon is the main ingredient for any Kentucky Derby party – and we can happily assist with that.
Founded in 1934, Haskell’s has championed fine wines for over 80 years. We have 13 wine stores in Minnesota, two delis and one restaurant. As one of the top wine shops in North America, Haskell’s is known for legendary service and one of the finest collections of wine, beer and spirits. Led by Chairman and CEO Jack Farrell, and the Farrell family, Haskell’s continues to be at the forefront of the wine scene throughout the world. Haskell’s also can ship wine, beer & spirits all throughout the world, the U.S. and we deliver locally.