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Best mint julep recipes for the Kentucky Derby

Spend a day at the races in spirit with these Southern-inspired cocktail.
/ Source: TODAY

Nothing says it's time for the Kentucky Derby quite like a flamboyant hat and an icy mint julep.

While this year's biggest horse-racing event has been postponed until September due to coronavirus, NBC Sports is celebrating Derby Day this Saturday, May 2, with new programs and a virtual race. Of course, no derby party would be complete without a signature libation.

For those in need of a refresher on this refreshing drink, the mint julep, a mixture of Kentucky bourbon, sugar, water and mint, became the derby's official cocktail in 1939 and is now as integral to the races as the horses.

The Kentucky Derby, a two-day, thoroughbred horse race that began in 1875, is (usually) held every year at the famous race track in Churchill Downs, Kentucky. A coterie of well-dressed viewers (everyone from Kim Kardashian to Queen Elizabeth II has been spotted at the track in previous years) watch from the stands — and at parties held at bars and homes across the country.

According to the Derby's list of traditions, the racetrack serves nearly 120,000 mint juleps during derby weekend. Bartenders go through 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.

While those tuning into the special programming from home this weekend won't be needing that much ice, we've got the most mouthwatering mint juleps to make your intimate Kentucky Derby gathering as fabulous as your hat.

Henry Clay Mint Julep

This mint julep is very similar to the classic recipe, but it has some extra refreshing effervescence. It uses Maker's Mark bourbon, soda water, a cluster of fresh mint and a little sugar.

Champagne Mint Julep

Champagne Mint Julep

Maureen Petrosky

Give your julep some French flair by adding a splash of Champagne. This version is garnished with a lemon peel or strawberry for hint of fruitiness.

This single malt julep leaves out the soda and keeps things neat with a 16-year-old Lagavulin and a big fistful of mint.

Mint Lemonade

Mint Lemonade

Maureen Petrosky

Here's a great one for the kids — or a good stand-in when the bourbon runs out. A non-alcoholic version of the Kentucky Derby's favorite drink, this tart mint lemonade has most of the same ingredients, without the booze.

This cocktail uses rye whiskey instead of bourbon and gets its sweetness from maple syrup. Bitters and fresh raspberries help highlight the minty profile of the classic cocktail. It's like a work of art in a cup.

Refreshing ice pops aren't just for kids anymore. These minty, bourbon-infused popsicles will cool you down and satisfy your summery cocktail cravings.