Mint Juleps and Kentucky Derby Picks: Your Weekend Is Complete

The key to any good mint julep is the right bourbon.

The key to any good mint julep is the right bourbon.

120,000 mint juleps are made on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs — but mass production isn’t the way to mix a stellar cocktail. Here, James Beard Award-winning mixologist Dale DeGroff shows you how to make the perfect Derby favorite.

And, while the buzz lasts, I head over to Belmont to catch up with professional handicapper Tony Gold to review this year’s Derby picks, which you can see below in addition to the drink recipe. Cheers!

Mint julep recipe from DeGroff’s website:


* 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
* 0.5 ounce simple syrup (here’s how to make it)
* 2 sprigs of Mint (Use tender, young mint sprigs)

Muddle one sprig of mint in the bottom of a highball glass with sugar syrup.  Add the bourbon and fill with crushed ice. Swirl with a bar spoon until the outside of the glass frosts. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Tony Gold’s Derby Picks:

1. Goldencents: ”This horse ticks all the boxes — has great tactical speed and showed some guts last time out to boot! Only query is the distance but class my just get him there.” Odds: 8/1

2. Itsmyluckyday: ”Ran a huge second to Orb in the Florida derby after 2 months off.  Super classy and will be very dangerous if anywhere near the lead when they turn for home. Note: the trainer said he was set for Kentucky, not Florida!” Odds: 14/1

3. Black Onyx: ”This horse’s dad (Rock Hard Ten) was one of my favourites and tough as nails. Breen his trainer has him flying under the radar. Will be about 40/1 and great value that could blow up the triple/superfecta.”

4. Orb: ”Won the Florida Derby and is bred to get the distance. I think he will be under the odds though and could go off favourite at odds of about 3/1 but is by far the best of the favourites going around.”

5. Normandy Invasion: ”I really liked his flying 2nd in the Woodward and that he has been training very well at the track. Good chance if he stays out of trouble early and gets a clear run at them in the straight.”

6. Palace Malice:  ”This horse is going to be big odds and will sit close to the pace.  It should get the distance okay and has been overlooked a bit. Mike Smith  has the mount and I have a feeling it is going to run a big one.”

Wise guy horse, Java’s War: ”Would be in my top 6, but his style of running puts him right back in the field and will need plenty of luck even if good enough.”

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