Whether you’re headed to Churchill Downs today for the Kentucky Derby or just watching with friends, odds are you’ll be offered a mint julep. I’m here to tell you it’s okay to turn that drink down because mint juleps are actually gross.
120,000 mint juleps are expected to be consumed this weekend at Churchill Downs and probably thousands more across the nation. That many people choke down this watered down, disgusting sugar bomb for the sake of tradition when they could save themselves the trouble and just drink bourbon.
Mint julep, how do I loathe you? Let me count the ways.
It’s a pain to make
Unless you have a crop of mint in your backyard (it is surprisingly easy to grow), you’ve gotta go to the store to get some. Then you get to “muddle” it with sugar water, crushing the leaves to release flavor, which people rarely do correctly. Unless the mint is really fresh, the muddling usually results in a bunch of bitter green crap floating around in your drink. From there, you add the bourbon, which you should just pour over ice on its own and enjoy.
It’s always too sugary
Sugary drinks lead to headaches and since sugar is one of the four ingredients in this drink, there’s no escaping it, especially since there’s no citrus/acidity to balance it. A well-made mint julep goes easy on the sugar, but if you’re relying on the store-made mixes, prepare yourself for a sugar high and hangover.
If you want a good bourbon drink that’s sweet, just order an old fashioned.
It becomes a disgusting watered down mess
Nothing is worse than a watered down drink. The copious amount of ice in mint juleps turns them to mint-scented, bourbon water that you don’t really want to drink, but you paid a lot for, so you suffer through it anyways.
No one really likes them
I’ll never forget driving around Nashville to find the specific type of ice (Sonic ice is perfect) required to make mint juleps for my first Derby party. I’ll also never forget how that ice was left to melt as my friends took one sip of the juleps and discreetly abandoned them. Mint juleps suck in large part because no one likes them, meaning the effort you put into serving them is wasted.
You know what people do like? Bourbonade. Here’s my recipe, which has been a crowd favorite for years and could be coming soon to KSBar and Grille:
- 2 cups unsweetened ice tea
- 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
- 1 12 oz. can of frozen lemonade
- 1 12 oz. can frozen limeade
- 1 750 ml bottle of bourbon
- 7 cups water
Makes one gallon. Nick Roush shared some more Derby cocktail ideas earlier this week:
In closing, if you like mint juleps, have at it, but if you don’t, don’t feel obligated to drink one just because it’s Derby. There are plenty of better options out there.