Mint Julep is a simple concoction traditionally made with bourbon, mint, sugar, water, and crushed ice. Mint Julep is one of America’s most celebrated cocktails. The history of the Mint Julep dates back to 1803, when it was first mentioned in print in London by a writer, John Davis. Davis described it as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” Coincidentally, the word “cocktail” was also used for the first time in the same year.
How about some “stirring” facts about the Mint Julep?
1. Did you know that the Mint Julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938?
2. Did you know that about 7,800 liters of bourbon and about 2,250 pounds of local mint go into the making of 120,000 gallons of the Mint Julep sold at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, during the Kentucky Derby weekend? Wow, that’s a whopping amount of Mint Julep flowing, for sure!!
3. Did you know that the Mint Julep is the focal point on the menu list of every celebration that happens in the town of Louisville in the Southern state of Kentucky?
4. Did you know that the word “Julep” is actually derived from the Arabic word “julab,” which means rose water?
5. Did you know that conventionally, spearmint is the most favored mint used in the Southern states, especially Kentucky, in the making of the Mint Julep?
6. Did you know that the original recipes of Mint Juleps were made with rum or cognac, instead of bourbon? Also, the Mint Julep can be made with just about any spirit. However, the drink was popularized by the South; and it was only natural for the bourbon—America’s favorite homemade spirit—to have become the centerpiece of the recipe!!
7. Did you know that the best way to serve a Mint Julep is in the Julep cup? The Mint Julep cup is made of sterling silver or pewter. However, in modern times, it is served in a tall glass or in a highball glass.
8. Talking about cups, the tallest Mint Julep cup was exhibited in May of 2008. The hosts of the Kentucky Derby, the Churchill Downs, in collaboration with Brown-Forman, got the Weber Group to make the world’s largest Mint Julep cup—which stood tall at 6 feet (1.8 m) and was 7.5 feet (2.3 m) with the mint sprig included! The cup held 206 gallons of the refreshing drink, which served about 5,500 patrons at the Derby that year.
9. Such is the patronage of the Mint Julep that extra premium Mint Juleps were created exclusively by the Churchill Downs for the Derby in 2006 and were sold at a premium price of $1,000 each, and the proceeds of this sale were donated to nonprofit charities dedicated to the care of retired racehorses. The cups that these Mint Juleps were sold in were gold-plated, served with silver straws, and made from the highest quality ingredients brought in from all over the world. The ice that was used was made from spring water brought in from the Bavarian Alps.
10. You would know that the Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday of May every year, but did you know that the 30th of May is the National Mint Julep Day!!
11. It is said that the Mint Julep was later introduced to London by British Captain Frederick Marryat. Captain Marryat wrote in his 1840 book—Second Series of a Diary in America—that, “They are in fact like the American ladies, irresistible.”