First declared by the city of Louisville in 2013, Mint Julep Month is a thirty-day celebration of the iconic Southern cocktail. Leading up to the annual Kentucky Derby, where some 120,000 juleps are served over two days at Churchill Downs, participating bars and restaurants across the nation have gotten in the spirit, hosting special events and mixing their own renditions of the classic sip. The occasion is a call to raise a glass together, and though this year’s Derby has been rescheduled as folks stay at home due to coronavirus concerns, the merriment continues.
This April, we’re celebrating Mint Julep Month from home, and wherever you are, we hope you’ll join us. Together with Bourbon Country, Garden & Gun is sharing julep recipes from iconic Louisville watering holes, perfect for mixing and enjoying from your own kitchen or front porch.
To kick things off, we looked to the historic Brown Hotel for its signature recipe. A cornerstone of Louisville society since 1923, the hotel has seen the city through Prohibition, World War II, and many, many a Kentucky Derby. Comparable to a box seat at Churchill Downs, the Brown Hotel is an epicenter of Derby time festivities, hosting notable guests from Elizabeth Taylor and Muhammad Ali to a number of U.S. presidents.
It’s no wonder, then, that a julep from the Brown’s Lobby Bar is considered the gold standard. “The hotel’s julep is a classic preparation,” says Troy Ritchie, the Brown’s food and beverage manager. “This is the oldest cocktail in existence, so we don’t deviate from the original recipe.” To re-create the drink, at-home mixologists need only bourbon, mint simple syrup, club soda, and crushed ice. “Start planting your own mint now,” Ritchie recommends. “And make and refrigerate the simple syrup ahead of time—you want it cold so it doesn’t dilute the drink as quickly. A julep is meant to be sipped on slowly and savored. Here in Kentucky we have a great reverence for that.”
For a true Louisville experience, pair the sip with a traditional Hot Brown—the famed open-face sandwich that originated at the Brown Hotel. And find more julep recipes at mintjulepmonth.com.