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According to Chris Goodlett, Curator of Collections at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, KY, the mint julep has been part of the Kentucky racing tradition since the 19th century, when jockey clubs gave out sterling silver julep cups as trophies. The drink, which is a mixture of Kentucky bourbon, sugar, water and mint, became the official Derby cocktail in 1939.
Though this time-honored libation is still a popular choice for race day, you don’t have to stick to the tried-and-true. These simple yet current recipes will provide a contemporary edge to any Derby gathering.