For me, pretty much most days are a great day to drink bourbon, but this weekend brings us to a historical reason to grab a bottle from the cabinet.

The Kentucky Derby is one of the longest running sports events in history, always taking place the first Saturday in May, with the big race taking place just after 6pm. This Saturday will mark the 140th “Run For The Roses” and it will also mark the day when your local liquor store runs out of bourbon.

getty images
getty images

Which Bourbon will you spend your Saturday with? How the heck do you make a Mint Julep? And since we are at it? What makes a Bourbon a Bourbon?

Here are a few bourbons you might want to check out. In no particular order (but try the Ancient Age if you are looking for an inexpensive dram to make mixed drinks with).

A bourbon can be made anywhere in the US. The mash that it is distilled from must be at least 51% corn and it is required to go into new charred oak barrels. There are no minimum aging requirements, if there is an age statement on the bottle, it will tell you the youngest age of the spirit that is in the bottle (when using different batches and grain spirits to smooth out the taste of the final product).

Mint Juleps (Sometimes they are available pre-made in a bottle that you can purchase, unless you have patience and fresh mint, go ahead and buy them)

Ingredients For Each Serving:
Mint leaves
2 tablespoons Mint Syrup (see recipe below)
Crushed ice
2 tablespoons water
2 ounces good-quality Kentucky bourbon
Fresh mint sprig

Preparation: Prepare the Mint Syrup.
Crush or muddle a few mint leaves in the bottom of an 8-ounce Mint Julep Cup (using the back of a spoon to crush mint leaves) until mixture forms a paste. Then fill the Mint Julep Cup 1/2 full with crushed or shaved ice. Add prepared Mint Syrup, water, and bourbon. Stir. To serve, garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

Mint Syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch fresh mint sprigs
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and pour over a handful of mint leaves and gently crush the mint with a spoon. Refrigerator syrup mixture overnight in a closed jar. Remove mint leaves and continue to refrigerate. This syrup mixture will keep for several weeks.