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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

BOOK/A TABLE - Mint Juleps for Derby Day

How I love May! When jackets go unbuttoned, lilacs are in bloom and the Kentucky Derby is at hand. And what Derby party would be complete without a Mint Julep in hand? Oooh yes, the Mint Julep—that wicked mistress of the South. She’ll coddle you through an afternoon and then beat you into submission by nightfall.

In New Hampshire, my neighbor Trudy’s annual Kentucky Derby parties were legendary and her juleps were the best I’ve ever tasted. Word is, she was given the somewhat unorthodox recipe from a Kentucky gentleman back in her salad days as a waitress. Somehow, my juleps are never as good as when Trudy made them (the rum, although surprising, is key), but it’s sure fun trying. Apart from any legerdemain, this is what she used to do:

Make simple syrup by boiling one part sugar to two parts water; let cool. Fill a tall Collins glass with crushed ice. Alternate Maker’s Mark (or your favorite Kentucky bourbon) and simple syrup in 1 oz portions, totaling 2 oz bourbon and 3 oz simple syrup. Top with a 1/2 oz floater of Myer's dark rum. Add a mint sprig and insert a straw to sip up the boozy goodness.

Now, you don’t have to wait for Derby Day to enjoy a julep. Just take a cue from F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby. I think this is fabulous: “The notion originated with Daisy’s suggestion that we hire five bathrooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as ‘a place to have a mint julep’.”

The Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May—and it falls on the 4th this year. Do enjoy and please ride responsibly!


  1. Ahhh, the annual tradition! I just bought a set of 8 cups for my mint julies and was going to ask you for your famous recipe! Thanks! Great minds!
    Happy Derby Day on Saturday, Peter!

  2. I will have to try…sounds delicious…I absolutely love mint