The Kentucky Derby is finally here, and like a shot of Jameson on St. Patty’s Day or a Pimms Cup at Wimbledon, the Mint Julep is a tradition we’re always willing to go along with, at least for a day. Unfortunately, short cuts over the years have marred the mint julep name, leaving behind a bad taste of overly sweet, artificial-tasting and deceptively alcoholic concoctions. It may be reason some of your friends swear to never drink juleps again, and the reason many Louisville locals proclaim they only take a symbolic sip. But if made properly, it is a worthy cocktail – a smooth, balanced blend of bourbon and sweetness with a whiff of fresh mint. Do not cheat on the ice, the crushed ice is king of this drink. However, you can improvise on presentation- personalize your cocktail with festive mugs to make it your own. Although we didn’t get our hands on Woodford Reserve’s $2000 gold-plated julep cups created for 140th Kentucky Derby, we have collected some pretty amazing vintage mugs over the years. Afterall, we wait all year to host our epic Derby Day Garden Party,  we might as well celebrate in style.

The Perfect Drink Me Mint Julep

5 mint leaves
2 sugar cubes
2 1/2 ounces of your favorite Kentucky Bourbon
Crushed ice

Place the mint, sugar cube and splash of bourbon into a julep cup & muddle well. Add crushed ice to half the cup. Add the bourbon. Fill the rest of the cup with crushed ice and stir until the glass becomes frosty. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Photos: Southern Weddings, Loramore, Joy the Baker.