Refreshing Cold Mint Julep for the Derby

With the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby drawing near, my mind is drawn to the most important part of race day: drinking. Specifically, racing makes me think Juleps. There’s nothing better on a hot day than this combination of bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed ice.

I love this drink because of the ritual that surrounds it. Every part of the experience has been thought out and refined over its long history. First, there is the silver cup, and then the crushed ice which makes the drink as cold as possible. The aroma is considered as well. You’ll often see a bartender clap the mint between their palms to release the mint’s aroma before topping the drink with it. A short straw is called for so that you smell the mint with every sip. Finally, tradition dictates that the drinker only touch the base or rim of the cup so as not to disturb the frozen crust of condensation.

Surprisingly, the julep can trace its history back over a thousand years. For most of that time, it was simply a type of medicine, usually a concoction of macerated flower petals and water. It wasn’t until the mid-eighteenth century that Americans began referring to their morning tipple as a “julep.” The juleps these colonial jokesters were having with breakfast were very different than the modern variation. Their cocktail contained rum instead of bourbon, only a sliver of mint, and water was called for instead of precious ice. From there, the drink grew with the new country, spreading with the colonies and adapting with the popular spirits of the day. Brandy and rye whiskey joined rum in the julep sooner than bourbon. Ice was added when possible, cut in giant blocks from frozen lakes in the north and shipped south and preserved by sawdust in ice houses. With the lack of air conditioning, the julep became America’s preferred method of staying cool. By 1938, when Churchill Downs began promoting the mint julep as the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, bourbon had become the only spirit called for.

Today I offer you a few recipes so that you can taste through a few centuries of the drink’s history.

Joe Redding’s Julep (1840)

1 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum

1 oz Kopke 10yr tawny port

1 oz raw sugar syrup

6-8 mint leaves

1 mint sprig for garnish

Prescription Julep (1857)

1 ½ oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

½ oz Rittenhouse Rye

1 oz raw sugar syrup

6-8 mint leaves

1 mint sprig for garnish

Bourbon Mint Julep (Present Day)

2 oz Henry McKenna 10yr Bourbon

1 oz raw sugar syrup

6-8 mint leaves

1 mint sprig for garnish

Keegan’s Julep

1.5 oz Pierre Ferran Ambre Cognac

.5 oz Smith & Cross Rum

1 oz raw sugar syrup

6-8 mint leaves

1 mint sprig for garnish

All four recipes are prepared the same way. Take the mint in your hand and press it firmly with your thumb so that it releases its essential oil. Add the pressed mint leaves, spirit, and sugar to a mixing glass and stir with ice until well chilled. Pour the mixture over crushed ice in a julep cup. Top with more crushed ice so that it mounds above the rim of the cup. Take your mint sprig and clap it between your hands to release the aroma and nestle the sprig in the ice. At first, the flavor may be too intense but take your time. As the ice melts, it will mellow the flavor.

The history of the Margarita is murky at best. Different stories have it originating in different bars from Baja or Juarez, Mexico to San Diego or La Jolla, California. The drink’s name is also under debate. Was it named for Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth or was it perhaps named for the daughter of the German ambassador? 

One thing that does seem clear is that it originated in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s at a time just after American prohibition in which many Americans had begun traveling to Mexico to consume alcohol. Historically in Mexico, tequila has always been sipped straight, and the Margarita is thought to have been invented for Americans who were more used to drinking mixed drinks.

Though there are now many different kinds of Margaritas, many with different fruits added in, we’ve come up with the best recipe we could find. Even though we may never know the exact origins of the Margarita, this recipe is very close to the original: quality tequila, an orange liquor, and tart fruit juice. Enjoy!

Happy Star Wars Day!

Looking for some out of this world cocktails to accompany your 7 movie marathon? We’ve got you covered with 6 (inter)steller recipes!

Coruscant Connection

Being a Galactic Senate is hard work! Relax with a Coruscant Connection. It’s the perfect drink for unwittingly giving rise to a new galactic order. 


1 part Cognac

1 park Luxardo Amaretto 

Pour all ingredients directly into old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes. Stir gently.

Tatooine Sunset

Two suns mean that it’s twice as hot on Tattooine, and that you’ll be excused for needing two of these to cool off!


3 oz. Lagioiosa Prosecco DOCG

1 oz. Aperol

Splash of soda water

Build into glass over ice, garnish with orange and serve.

Princess Royale

Naboo. Alderaan. Yavin. Every planet needs a princess, and there’s no drink more royal than this one!


.75 oz Crème de Violette

5 oz Champagne

Pour into Champagne flute and garnish with lemon, cherry, or blackberry (dependant upon house colors)

Jakku Sandstorm

When the wind starts to blow you’re in for one wild time! Settle back with this drink and watch the sand fly!


1.5 oz White rum

.5 oz Ancho Reyes chile liquor

1 oz fresh lemon juice

.5 oz simple syrup

Club soda

Combine rum, Ancho Reyes, syrup, and juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass and top off with club soda. Garnish with lemon.


It may be cold outside, but things are just heating up with this cocktail!

2 oz gin

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1 egg white (option)
Combine all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Dark Lord of the Spritz

Take a sip on the dark side! The perfect chaser to destroying worlds and killing Jedi.

1.5 oz Chambord Liqueur

4 oz dry white wine

Soda water

Take a large wine glass and fill it up with ice. Add Chambord, white wine, and soda. Stir and garnish with the lightsabers of your fallen enemies.

It’s likely that you have a very clear concept of what a California chardonnay tastes like: full bodied, fruity, round, buttery. California leaves a distinct mark on its wine. There is, however, another side to chardonnay. Just as distinct but in the opposite manner, French chardonnays from the northern region of Chablis have their own unique qualities: Crisp, refined, elegant, light, subtle, and tart. To give you a chance to explore this unique region we are offering six selections at a discount. Buy them one at a time for 15% off or try any six at once and save 20%. If you find one that you absolutely love purchase a full case and receive 25% off.

Jean-Claude Courtault

Jean Claude Courtault began working in Chablis in 1974 as a vineyard manager for other estates. He began acquiring small parcels of land in 1984, starting with just 3.7 acres, and began making his own wine. Today the estate has 43 acres and is continuing to grow with the help of Jean Claude’s daughter Stéphanie and her husband Vincent Michelet. The wines of the Estate Jean-Claude Courtault are known for their strong fruit character.

2011 Chablis $24.99

The wine is an excellent introduction to Chablis. It is bright and mineral driven with hints of crisp apple and lemon. 

Domaine Testut

Founded in 1967, Domaine Testut is fortunate to have most of its vineyards planted over half a century ago. These old vines produce smaller more concentrated grapes which give the wine more intense flavor than that of wines from younger grapes. 

2013 Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre $51.99

The Montee de Tonnerre vineyard is one of the best premier crus with ideal south-east facing exposure allowing the grapes to ripen longer. To ensure that the grapes are in perfect condition the vineyard is picked entirely by hand which ensures that the grapes don’t oxidize before reaching the winery.

Chartron et Trebuchet

The Chartron family has been growing grapes since 1859 but it was not until the 1980s that they, along with Louis Trébuchet, began making their own wines. They own some of the very best chardonnay vineyards in the whole world stretching from Chablis in the north to the Côte de Beaune further south.

2012 Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy $44.99

Their Beauroy is on the more powerfull-bodied end of the spectrum and is complimented by a portion of new oak barrels as well as extended aging, 12-16 months in barrel and  4-6 months in bottle before it is released.

Domaine Corinne Perchaud

Corinne Perchaud and her husband Jean-Pierre Grossot began working in the Domaine in 1980, they are the third generation to run the family estate which was founded in 1920. They are now joined by their daughter Eve making her the fourth generation to work at the estate.

2013 Chablis Premier Cru Vaucoupin $42.99

Their plantings in the Vaucoupin vineyard are only 3.5 acres. This site is one of the few south facing slopes in the region giving the vines longer sun exposure allowing them to ripen more. Another advantage of the site is the Kimmeridgian limestone soil that gives the wines their unique characteristics. The wine is aged on its lees in barrel for sixteen months before release which tames the tart acidity and gives it a rounder mouth feel.

2013 Chablis Premier Cru Fourneaux $42.99

Fourneaux means oven in French and is so named because the steep slopes acts to trap precious heat and the soil is rocky which reflects heat back to the plants helping them ripen the grapes to maturity. Only 25% of the wine is aged in barrel which helps to preserve freshness.

Garnier & Fils

Brothers Xavier and Jérôme Garnier share a passion for wine and the Chablis region, where their family has owned a 57-acre estate for many decades. While their father sold the grapes, the brothers began making their own wine in 1996, selling it to restaurants in and around Paris. Garnier & Fils uses traditional, environmentally friendly, organic practices; they harvest later than most, ferment with natural yeast and age the wines in very large barrels.

2013 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains $42.99

Montmains is another south facing vineyard allowing for more ripeness. The vines are all over 35 years old giving the final wine more concentration. The wine is aged in large 600L barrels as well as some stainless steel making the final wine more crisp.

Chablis Grand Cru Vauldesir $99.99

Vauldesir is one of the seven Grand Crus of Chablis. They are all located on a single hillside above the village of Chablis. The Grand Crus benefit from perfect sun exposure and the warmest spot in the area allowing the for the most intense and powerful wines. The grand Crus are are aged for nearly two years in small oak barrels before bottling adding even more body and complexity.