May 3, 2013 at 11:52 AM ET
If you have a mint to spend on your mint julep this year, a bourbon maker has a way to celebrate the Kentucky Derby in style, and benefit a worthy cause at the same time.
Woodford Reserve of Versailles, Ky., is selling a limited amount of mint juleps priced at $1,000 and more in advance of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Proceeds from the pricey drinks go to Old Friends, a facility for retired racehorses. In the seven previous years that Woodford Reserve has offered the special drinks, it has raised more than $354,000 for various charities.
So what makes a mint julep worth $1,000? Besides the usual concoction of bourbon, spearmint leaves, water and sugar, Woodford Reserve serves it in a sterling silver cup hand-engraved with the date of this year’s Derby and the horse-and-rider image that also adorns the gold Kentucky Derby trophy. A gold-filled garland of roses rounds out the base of the cup, and there is a gold-plated straw for sipping. The cup also comes in a box lined with custom silk and made from the American oak that is used in Woodford Reserve’s bourbon barrels.
The company has had 79 $1,000 drinks for sale online since April 15, and 78 of them have already been sold, according to the website. Customers don’t have to stop at a $1,000 mint julep, either; there also is an online auction for nine “Legendary Cups’’ in which the bidding starts at $2,000.
There also is the “Golden Opportunity,” a cup with a starting bid of $5,000. The highest bidder gets to present the trophy to the winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which precedes the Kentucky Derby race; tours the Old Friends facility with a Hall of Fame jockey, and receives dinner at Woodford’s distillery.