This special mint julep is available for pre-order in a gift box and served at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
How do you make a grand affair like the Kentucky Derby grander? Woodford Reserve, the presenting sponsor of the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and the official bourbon of the race, has found a way. The esteemed distillery this week launched the Woodford Reserve 2019 $1,000 Mint Julep.
As if the classic mint julep wasn’t refined enough — the silver cup the drink is served in once served as the award presented to the winning jockey — this new recipe includes a locally made honey “Kentucky Sweetener” simple syrup that, as the official announcement stresses, was “laid to rest in a small oak barrel for 145 days inside the famed Twin Spires at Churchill Downs to commemorate the 145th Kentucky Derby. This is the first time anything has been allowed to rest inside the Twin Spires.”
For the recipe (a version is shared below), Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth combine the aforementioned sweetener with fresh mint grown on the grounds of the Churchill Downs racetrack, to make the mint julep even more special.
But what makes Woodford Reserve 2019 $1,000 Mint Julep extraordinary is that proceeds generated from Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep sales will go to the John Asher Memorial Scholarship Fund at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, south of Louisville.
“I wanted to bring substance and style to the once much maligned mint julep,” says Woodford Reserve’s master distiller Chris Morris. “It also gives us a fun opportunity to raise money for charitable causes. It fits well with the Derby because the mint julep has been its official drink since 1933 and Woodford Reserve has been its only official bourbon. Since every Derby is different (horses, weather, trainers, etc.), we make sure our $1,000 mint julep is as well, so it remains fresh and exciting each year — just like the first Saturday in May!”
Each $1,000 mint julep cup will be presented in a wooden box lined with jockey silks featuring the iconic flask-shaped Woodford Reserve bottle which were designed by Bourbon Cousins of Cincinnati, Ohio. The silver cups are handcrafted by Louisville jeweler from the Vault, and each is adorned with embellishments representative of the best of Kentucky. Etched on the cup are the Twin Spires, while barrels are prominently displayed on the sides — reflective of the small oak barrel with this year’s special rested honey sweetener inside one spire. The cups also feature a bottle of Woodford Reserve, tying together the quintessential ingredients needed for the Kentucky Derby. The inspiration for the scrollwork on the cup comes from the classic architecture of the original grandstand at Churchill Downs.
With a total of 145 cups available (125 silver cups retail at $1,000 per cup| 20 Gold Plated Cups retail at $2,500 per cup) consumers will be able to purchase their cups online here. Consumers must be 21+ in order to purchase. ALL cups will be available for pick up at Churchill Downs on Derby Day (May 4) at The Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Tent & Hospitality Center. Purchased cups must be claimed by the buyer or his or her submitted and approved proxy at Churchill Downs on Derby Day between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Any unsold cups will be available for purchase at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day (May 4).
An “Inspired” Cocktail: Woodford Reserve’s 2019 $1,000 Mint Julep Kentucky Derby Recipe
2 ounces Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
2 bar spoons of inspired honey sweetener
2 mint leaves
Shaved honeycomb and a sprig of mint, for garnish
Rub mint around the julep cup, expressing the essential oils and place the mint leaf in the bottom of the cup. Drizzle 2 bar spoons of honey sweetener in the cup, followed by 2 ounces of Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon, mixing the ingredients together. Pack ice into the cup, followed by placing the sipping straw. Layer loose ice on top, with a splash of Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon to settle your drink. Garnish with shaved honeycomb and a sprig of mint.
This cocktail is also served at Churchill Downs for anyone who doesn’t want a mint julep. It’s also great as a batched cocktail for derby-watching parties. Find more Woodford Reserve cocktails here.
1½ parts Woodford Reserve
2 parts lemonade
1 part cranberry juice
Lemon peel for a lemon twist, for garnish
In a glass, mix Woodford Reserve, lemonade, and cranberry juice with a bar spoon. Add liquid mixture into a copper cup. Add crushed ice to the top of the glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
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Photography: © Woodford Reserve