Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Derby Day Cocktails: Juleps and More

Mint Julep 2

The Kentucky Derby is almost here and the important question is “What will you be drinking?


I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. This is unfortunately the second year in a row I’ve been unable to make it to Louisville for some form of derby festivities. To those, who like me, will be watching the run for the roses somewhere other than Churchill Downs, this article is for you. We’ll go over some Juleps as well as suggest a few cocktails for those less into bourbon/Juleps.


A Trifecta of Juleps

The obvious choice for many on derby day is the Mint Julep, the official drink of the derby. Hundreds of thousands of people can’t be wrong right?

We’ll go over how to make the Mint Julep as well as a couple variations I created. One is designed to appeal to a broad audience, including those not so into bourbon and features a sweeter flavor as well as fruit, while the other is looking for a more spirited rendition of the Mint Julep.

Before we get into any variations, lets go over how to make the classic Mint Julep. I like to make mine with the official bourbon, Woodford Reserve:


Mint Julep 2Mint Julep

2.5oz Bourbon

.25oz Simple Syrup

10 Mint Leaves

2 Mint Sprigs


If you’ve never tried one and are looking to celebrate derby the traditional way, start with the Mint Julep. It also serves as a frame of reference before diving into any of the variations. Besides, how could you not like the taste of ice cold sweet bourbon and mint? Learn more about the history of the Mint Julep here.

Now let’s say you’ve had your share of the Mint Julep, or are just in the mood for something a little different, while keeping to the Julep theme. I have two more options for you to try. The first is a little sweeter, a lot fruitier and also edible:


Mint Blulep 2Mint Blulep

2.5oz Bourbon

.75 Maraschino

.25oz St. Germain

1brspn Creme Yvette

2 dashes Peach Bitters

  Blueberries/Mint Leaves/Sprigs


The blueberries really make the Mint Blulep great, plus it gives you something to snack on while you sip, making the experience all the better. Ridiculously refreshing.

The final Mint Julep in this trifecta is for those who like even more backbone in their drinks. This one features 3 types of Chartreuse, although it can be made with just one if desired.


The Chartrulep 2The Chartrulep

2.5oz Bourbon

.5oz Green Chartreuse

Yellow Chartreuse/Elixir Vegetal (optional)

Mint Leaves/Sprigs


The Chartrulep features an additional half ounce of high octane Green Chartreuse (110 proof) beyond the hefty 2.5oz pour of bourbon, which as you might expect brings the spirited flavor to the forefront.

That being said, if you are a fan of herbal, slightly anise flavored drinks, then you are sure to enjoy the Chartrulep. Just be careful as it can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. . . not that I would know anything about that.


What if I don’t like Juleps/Bourbon?

Believe it or not there are people out there who don’t like whiskey, no matter how it’s presented. It’s ok, all are welcome here. Never fear, I have a few more refreshing cocktails that will be great for a warm spring day. These three are very light and refreshing and feature two of my favorite ingredients, Maraschino and St. Germain. The first two are gin based, while the third is made with rum.

This first one is somewhat similar to the Mint Blulep, but is made with Gin and is stirred and served up. That being said, I’m sure it would taste delicious in Julep form as well.


Minty Blues 2Minty Blues

2oz Gin

.5oz Maraschino

.5oz St. Germain

1 brspn Creme Yvette

Mint Leaves/Blueberries


Minty Blues is also very refreshing and makes for an elegant refined cocktail, plus if you have the ingredients you can make either drink.

Another great cocktail for derby day is Lily’s Pad. This gin based tipple also features cucumber and mint.


Lily's Pad 2Lily’s Pad

2oz Hendrick’s Gin

.5oz Velvet Falernum

.75oz Maraschino

.75oz Dolin Blanc

.75oz St. Germain

  .75oz Lemon juice

  Bittermens Boston bittahs

  Mint Leaves/Cucumber Slices


The last cocktail I’ll present is rum based. This one also has lime juice paired with St. Germain and maraschino.


Ernest the AviatorErnest the Aviator

2oz Light Rum

1oz St. Germain

.25oz Maraschino

.5oz Lime Juice/Twist

Velvet Falernum/Boston Bittahs


Ernest the Aviator has features similar to a Hemingway Daquiri and an Aviation. Definitely worth trying.


Hopefully you’ll try one (or more) of these or maybe they will inspire you to come up with something new to drink during the Kentucky Derby.  Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with straight bourbon, or and Old Fashioned on derby day.

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