Grab your finest hats and bow ties, ladies and gents — it’s Derby time. Whether you’re into the real racing of the event or not, one thing’s for sure: There will be juleps. How those juleps are prepared, though, is another question entirely. From the uber refreshing to the hot and spicy, here are four Derby drams perfectly suited for your high stakes weekend.
THE KENTUCKY ROSE at OCEAN PRIME
Inspired to create a cocktail utilizing fresh, well-balanced ingredients that elevate the bourbon spirit category, the team here called upon Bulleit, fresh mint, housemade grenadine, and cherry bark vanilla bitters. “The Bulleit is hot and spicy yet mellowed out by the fresh grenadine, citrus and mint sprigs,” says bartender Andrea Hoover. “We finished the cocktail with cherry vanilla bitters, which round out the concoction quite nicely.”
THE MINT JULEP at MAISON PREMIERE
The annual Kentucky Derby party is not to be missed at this Williamsburg bar — the only 2016 NYC James Beard finalist for Outstanding Bar program. For this classic take, bar director Will Elliott cracks ice over Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon and demerara syrup in a julep tin before giving it a quick stir and topping it off with more ice. He garnishes it all with a large mint bouquet — but take note: According to Elliott, the mint is more important than any other ingredient of the concoction, including the bourbon.
THE WATERMELON JULEP at THE THIRD MAN
Guests can celebrate the 142nd Kentucky Derby at this Viennese-inspired cocktail bar with the watermelon julep, a house favorite. Comprised of two simple ingredients— fresh watermelon juice and bourbon — the riff is served on the rocks and garnished with a sprig of mint.
THE NOT YOUR BASIC JULEP at BOUNCE SPORTING CLUB
The traditional julep takes a bubbly turn at this Flatiron hotspot, where the team calls upon three ounces of GH Mumm Champagne to round out the minty dram. Muddled strawberries, mint sprigs, and simple syrup also come in handy in balancing out the heat from a surprising addition of Jack Fire, a cinnamon liqueur from Jack Daniel’s.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos from left: The Kentucky Rose; Not Your Basic Julep; Watermelon Julep)