Mint Juleps

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Makes 10 drinks. Recipe is from Don Verdicanno of Denham Springs, Louisiana, who learned how to make this spirited concoction over 30 years ago from the owners of Montaigne Plantation in Natchez.

Churchill Downs started serving the iconic drink in  1875, but it didn’t become the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby until 1938. Today, the Derby sells about 120,000 mint juleps on the weekend of the big horse race.

 

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

2 bunches fresh mint, plus additional for garnish

4 cups bourbon

Crushed ice

 

1. Make a mint syrup by dissolving sugar in water in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 bunches mint leaves and tender tops. Simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain into a jar and refrigerate until cold.

2. For each drink, pack a julep cup or old fashioned glass with crushed ice. Pour 1 tablespoon mint syrup over ice. Add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) bourbon. Beat with a teaspoon until ice forms on the outside of the cup. Stir in 1 more tablespoon mint syrup. Garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy!