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How to make the Kentucky Derby's official cocktail: the Mint Julep

Posted at 1:06 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 20:29:55-04

PHOENIX — The Mint Julep is one of the Kentucky Derby's most famous drinks.

Nearly 120,000 of them are served over the two-day weekend, according to Churchill Down's website. And the shopping list likely involves a large cart: 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-To-Serve mix, 1,000 pounds of mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.

Before the race this weekend, we wanted to learn how to make it.

We stopped by Little Rituals, the newly-opened cocktail bar and lounge on the fourth floor of the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Phoenix. It is the latest concept from Ross Simon, the owner of Bitter and Twisted, and Aaron DeFeo, who previously worked at the Casino del Sol in Tucson.

Watch the video above to see how the cocktail is made.

DeFeo shared the recipe with us, too. So, whether you're going out to watch the "fastest two minutes in sports" or having a party at home, here is everything you need to sip on the Kentucky Derby's official drink.

What you need:

  • 2 ounces, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, or higher-proof bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon, Rich Demerara syrup (two parts Demerara syrup, one part water)
  • Crushed ice
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • 3-4 mint sprigs

How to make:

  • Add mint leaves and Demerara syrup to a metal julep cup or another 10-ounce cup.
  • Gently press mint leaves and syrup with a bar spoon. Try not to crush or shred them.
  • Add bourbon.
  • Add crushed or pebble ice and stir until outside of glass is frosted. Avoid cubed ice.
  • Add fresh ice to crest the top of the vessel.
  • Garnish with straw and mint sprigs.

Both Simon and DeFeo wanted to revamp the idea of the typical hotel bar with Little Rituals. The menu features 30 custom cocktails, including low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks, and an upscale bar bites. Dishes include candied bacon board ($16) with candied shoulder bacon with sauces, cheese and fruit; poblano grilled cheese ($11), roasted poblano, pepper jack, asadero, cream cheese asadero on Noble bread; and caramel claypot wings ($13), crispy chicken wings, black pepper caramel, truffle panko, pickled chilies, cilantro, mint, thai basil, and red hot toast.

Little Rituals
Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown, 132 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours: Daily, 4 p.m. - 2 a.m.