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The famous Mint Julep recipe served at the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is known for horses, hats and Mint Juleps.

Executive chef David Danielson of Churchill Downs has revealed the recipe for the beloved cocktail; served to the 400,000 people who come through the gates on race day.

While the race lasts just two minutes, Derby drinking is an all-day event.

Drinking is an all-day event at the Kentucky Derby, where the famous race lasts just two minutes. Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

In fact, an estimated 127,000 mint juleps are served at the Bluegrass State’s social event of the season, from the time the bar opens at 8 am, until last call at 8:10 pm.

Churchill Downs reportedly serves 254,000 ounces of bourbon (or over 10,000 750 milliliter bottles), 300 crates of mint (about 4,000 pounds of locally sourced stuff from Louisville, Kentucky’s Dohn Gardens) and 60,000 pounds of ice to make their juleps. 

You certainly won’t need that much, so gauge how high you wanna fill your shopping cart depending on the recipe below.

Chef David Danielson’s Churchill Downs Mint Julep Recipe

  1. Pour 2 ounces of Woodford Reserve and simple syrup over crushed ice.
  2. Stir with spoon.
  3. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Smooth Kentucky bourbon and local mint are the key to the famous Derby drink of choice. Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
A tray of prepared juleps at Churchill Downs, home of the Derby. Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

A classic mint julep is a combination of bourbon, water, fresh mint, sugar and crushed ice. But chef Danielson is very specific about what ingredients he uses and how he serves them.

For each drink, the bartenders at Churchill Downs pour two ounces of Woodford Reserve bourbon.

“Woodford is a very smooth bourbon,” Danielson told HuffPost. “It has a great flavor profile and delicious caramel notes.” 

Then comes the mint simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil and steeped with mint before being strained off.

Danielson noted that to save time, you can mix a large supply of bourbon and syrup and just let it marry in the fridge, until ready to mix your drinks.

When it sippin’ time, yo won’t have much to do, he said.

Take your ice out, pour [this boozy mixture] over top, garnish it, and you’re literally off to the races, my friend,” the pro said, noting that a full, six-to-seven leaf sprig of mint is the classic decoration.

“Historically, juleps were a sign of prosperity,” Danielson said. “Ice was a commodity, and so when you wanted to entertain or show people you were in society, you showed people you had ice. If you had crushed ice piled high in a glass, you were really doing well.”

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