Sometimes it’s better to just stick to the classics, especially when it comes to festive cocktails. With Saturday’s Kentucky Derby just around the corner, variations of the famous Mint Julep history of the Julep runs pretty deep. Historians have traced the combination of bourbon, mint, and sugar as far back as 1803. And the silver cup? Entirely necessary. As Francine Cohen wrote in VinePair, Lexington’s Samuel Judson told a reporter in 1908, “Take a silver cup —always a silver cup. Fill it with ice pulverized to the fineness of snow. Bruise one tender little leaf of mint and stick it in the ice. Then dissolve a spoonful of sugar in about three-quarters of a Kentucky drink of good whisky and let the fluid filter through the ice to the bottom of the cup. Shake the cup slowly until a coating of a thick white frost forms on the outside. Trim with mint and hand to an appreciative gentleman.” The quote comes from Fred Minnick, author of Bourbon Curious and the Bourbon authority for the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Over the years, Mint Juleps have become synonymous with Derby Day. As Cohen reported, 5,040 liters of bourbon were used to produce 127,341 Juleps at last year’s Derby alone! Pretty safe to say the cocktail has come a long way since its humble beginnings over two centuries ago.

Click here for the only Classic Mint Julep recipe you’ll need for your Derby festivities this Saturday!

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