The great thing about mint juleps? Very little about them changes. Following are three items of interest to the mint julep set.

I. The simple shooter approach.

Hey, Mint Julep. Your One-Day-a-Year Is Here, at The Chuck Cowdery Blog (2016)

Many people misunderstand the mint julep. It is not a cocktail in the ordinary sense. It is more of a shooter. A mint julep should be made quickly, served immediately and consumed promptly, before the ice starts to melt and turn the drink watery.

The julep is at its peak of flavor the instant it is completed. Every moment that passes thereafter diminishes its quality. There should be just enough liquid in the glass for one or two good swallows.

Taken appropriately in a suitable context the mint julep is delightful. Its sensuality can be nearly overpowering.

II. Joe Nickell’s book, widely available on the internet and with used copies reasonably priced.

The Kentucky Mint Julep, by Joe Nickell (Better World Books)

A simple concoction — bourbon, mint, sugar, and water — the mint julep is legendary. Few people know its history and even fewer know how to properly mix this classic cocktail. Lighthearted, entertaining, and informative, The Kentucky Mint Julep explores the lore and legend of the Kentucky Derby’s traditional tipple. Joe Nickell looks at the origins of the julep, offers a brief history of American whiskey and Kentucky bourbon, and shares some classic julep tales. Information on julep cups, tips on garnishing and serving, and reminiscences from the likes of Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, and General John Hunt Morgan give a fun, historic look at Kentucky’s favorite drink. The book includes numerous recipes — for classic juleps, modern variations, non-alcoholic versions, and the author’s own thoroughly researched “perfect” mint julep. This delightful book is illustrated with historic photographs, a map of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and more.

III. The 2023 Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Charity Program honors the 50th anniversary of Secretariat winning the Kentucky Derby.

Handmade by Louisville-based jeweler From the Vault, each cup features a design of Secretariat’s famed blue and white checkered silks in sapphires.

This year, all proceeds benefit the Secretariat Foundation. The foundation was created by Mrs. Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat, to support thoroughbred and equine-related industries. Chenery passed away in 2017, but her children continue operating the charity in her memory.

And, as is the custom, there’s a special mint julep recipe: “Secretariat’s Mint Julep,” featuring Woodford Reserve Bourbon and handmade chestnut liqueur (referring to Secretariat’s chestnut coat) with mint and Virginia bluebell flowers, commemorating the legendary thoroughbred’s state of birth.

  • 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz. chestnut liqueur
  • 1 sprig of mint, for garnish
  • 1 stalk of Virginia bluebells, for garnish

Directions: Mix, then pour over a julep cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells.