Kentucky Derby Mint julep Cocktail with Sherry

What is the kentucky derby?

The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States. It is a horse race that has been dubbed “The Run for the Roses” and is the most exciting two minutes in sports. The official drink of The Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep, which is a tall bourbon cocktail served over crushed ice with mint and sugar. We will be discussing the history of this iconic American cocktail and have created our own sherry based variation as well.

History and Origins of the Mint Julep

The julep has roots in ancient Persia, where one might have heard of “gulab,” a kind of royal rosewater bath. By the ninth century, this rosewater concoction had become a remedy for respiratory and stomach ailments. In the Mediterranean region, mint became more commonly used than rose petals due to the herb’s abundance, and by the 1600’s, the term “julep” had entered Middle English via Old French, where it made its mark on the language and literature of the time. The poet John Milton described a “cordial julep” as “spirits of balm and fragrant syrups mixed.” The drink’s primary application was medicinal into the 1700’s. By then, American settlers in Virginia had established the practice of combining spirits with sweetened water and mint to produce a more pleasant-tasting beverage. The julep was then a high-society brandy or rum drink served in silver cups, as the wealthy were the only ones with regular access to ice. As the 1700’s progressed and Americans won their independence, they found themselves with an abundance of corn and rye that would soon fuel a booming distilling industry. Kentucky was among the states where corn grew abundantly, and along with the state’s limestone water, helped give birth to Kentucky bourbon. By the early 1800’s, bourbon had supplanted rum and brandy among the state’s julep crowd. The popularity of the new bourbon-based mint julep gained the favor of the state’s senator, Henry Clay, who later introduced the drink at a bar in Washington, D.C. in 1850. With the primary components of the modern mint julep in place, the drink became a common fixture of warm-weather social events in Kentucky, including horse races. The 1790’s saw an increase in the number of mile-long oval racetracks in the state, and by the 1820’s, winning jockeys were receiving silver cups as prizes. In 1875, Kentucky initiated what would become its most well-known sporting event: the Kentucky Derby. The Mint Julep became the event’s official drink in 1939.

Which Sherry is best for a Mint Julep cocktail?

We believe that oloroso sherry is the best for our Mint Julep due to its heavily oxidized flavor profile, which mimics whiskey very well.

About Lustau Don Nuño Oloroso

We chose our Lustau Don Nuño Oloroso for our Mint Julep recipe as it is perfect for mixing in cocktails due to its bold and balanced nature.

Mint julep kentucky derby Ingredients – Best Sherry for a cocktail with Kentucky Bourbon

  • 1.5oz Lustau Don Nuño Oloroso Sherry
  • 1.5oz Bourbon
  • .75oz Simple Syrup
  • 8-10 Mint Leaves
  • Garnish: Mint Sprig

Kentucky Derby cocktail recipe- Step by step how to prepare the Mint Julep cocktail with bourbon

1) Add all ingredients to a mixing tin

2) Add ice, shake and strain over crushed ice into a Julep glass (silver if possible)

3) Garnish with a mint sprig

Tips for making a Mint Julep

It’s very important to serve this drink in a proper Julep cup. These cups are made of metal and help keep the drink cold while you slowly sip on it. If you use a regular glass cup, the drink will melt too quickly and will lose its structure before you can finish it.

Mint Julep Variations and types

Mint Julep with coconut and sherry

  • 3oz Lustau Palo Cortado Península Sherry
  • .75oz Coconut Syrup
  • 8-10 Mint Leaves
  • Garnish: Mint Sprig

Mint Julep with Rum and sherry

  • 1.5oz Lustau Don Nuño Oloroso Sherry
  • 1.5oz Dark Rum
  • .75oz Simple Syrup
  • 8-10 Mint Leaves
  • Garnish: Mint Sprig


Who invented the Mint Julep?

The inventor of the Mint Julep is unknown, but Harry Clay, a senator from Kentucky, was the first to introduce the drink in Washington, DC in 1850

When was the Mint Julep invented?

The Mint Julep was invented sometime during the early 1800’s, when bourbon started to supplant brandy and rum as the spirit of choice in America

Why is it called the Kentucky Derby cocktail?

It’s called the Kentucky Derby cocktail because it’s the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and at Churchill Downs, the racetrack that hosts the Derby every year.

What is the best bourbon for a Mint Julep?

Any bourbon that is at least 90 proof as the whiskey will need to stand up to the crushed ice. Otherwise, the drink may become too diluted over time.

What is the difference between a Mint Julep and Mojito?

A Mojito is a rum based cocktail that is similar to a Mint Julep, but adds lime juice and is not served over crushed ice.

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