The 2021 Kentucky Derby takes place this Saturday, May 1, and thanks to the people at Woodford bourbon, you can recreate this year’s official mint julep recipe from home to celebrate.
There’s a reason why you can’t have one from the Derby: They’re sold out. Each year Woodford Bourbon and the Kentucky Derby offer a limited supply of mint juleps with a special twist. While the juleps you can buy at concession stands are tasty (and made with the same bourbon), the special julep is an exclusive experience—and an expensive one.
A total of just 100 julep cups went on sale the first week of April. Numbers 1 through 11 (the gold plated selections) were selling for $2,500 each, and the silver-plated cups 12 through 100 were priced at $1,000.
While the price may seem steep for a cocktail, remember that this program sees the funds distributed to charities each year. This year’s cups are funding support for the Project to Protect African-American Turf History, a Kentucky-based non-profit that’s been working to tell the sport’s history of Black jockeys for more than a decade.
The cups were designed by local Louisville jewelers From the Vault. Each one comes in a bespoke purse designed by Louisville artist Albert Shumake and cradled in decorative silk patterned by artist Gwendolyn Kelly.
If you missed out on the sale, you’re really just missing out on the cup—the experience is of course limited for 2021. Due to the pandemic, this year’s cups are being mailed directly to consumers, along with the ingredients to make the cocktail in question (aside from the ice, most likely).
The good news is, if the $1,000 and $2,500 juleps are being made at customers’ homes, you can do the same. This year’s recipe seems appropriately decadent for an event like the “fastest two minutes in sports.”
The 2021 official julep, called the “Cherries and Cream,” harkens back to some trends from more than a century ago. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cherries were a common ingredient at the Derby. Admittedly, cream isn’t exactly a welcome julep ingredient, so vanilla has been incorporated to represent the flavor in the recipe.
It’ll necessitate a quick trip to the grocery store, and perhaps some upper body work if you don’t have a crushed ice feature on your fridge. For the full experience, you might even consider making a donation to the Project to Protect African-American Turf History.
How to Make the Official Kentucky Derby Cherries & Cream Julep
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- 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- 1/2 oz. cherry juice
- Half a vanilla bean pod (cut into small segments)
- 1 tsp. powdered sugar
- Crushed ice
- Garnish: mint spring, cherry, and vanilla bean pod
How to make it
In the julep cup, add 1/2 oz cherry juice. Add half a vanilla bean pod cut into small segments. Add 1 tsp. of powdered sugar. Muddle or mix together.
Add crushed ice to 2/3 of the cup. Add 2 oz of Woodford Reserve. Top off the cup with crushed ice.
Garnish with a mint sprig, real cherry, and vanilla bean pod.