There’s more to the Kentucky Derby than horse racing and floppy hats—it’s Mint Julep season! As you begin preparations for the “greatest two minutes in sports,” make sure you have what you need to make this year’s festivities a galloping success. In honor of Derby week, we’re going beyond your standard spearmint Julep. Get a little insight on different mints to try along with 5 tasty variations of the classic cocktail.
A traditional Mint Julep uses spearmint. This is also the most popular fresh mint variety you’ll find in your local supermarket, as it pairs best with savory dishes. This type of mint gets the majority of its aroma and flavor from its most abundant compound, carvone.
Spearmint is often described as delicate with a subtle, herbal sweetness; but since it lacks a significant amount of natural menthol— the chemical ingredient responsible for that cooling sensation— it’s also got less of an aftertaste than other mints, adding a freshness to iced tea, juices, smoothies, and a variety of cocktails.
Want to mix things up a bit? Try a tasty Strawberry Mint Julep instead. Muddle simple syrup with strawberries until you get a pureed consistency. Next, add in mint and gently muddle until the leaves are bruised. Finally, combine the mixture with your choice of Bourbon and crushed ice. Throw a strawberry and some extra mint on top and serve. Mmm, tastes like summer in a glass!
Nothing goes better together than chocolate and mint—so chocolate mint must taste like candy! Not quite, but you can get pretty close, depending on how it is used. Chocolate mint is actually the result of a complicated cross between watermint, spearmint, and orange mint. It has the aroma of chocolate, but the flavor of orange citrus.
Make your mint juleps a dessert this year with a Chocolate Mint Julep. You’ll need to muddle your mint with crème de cacao and Bourbon before adding in your crushed ice. Garnish with mint and chocolate syrup for an extra rich flavor. It won’t improve your bets on the track, but it might make the experience more fun!
Don’t let the name trick you! Apple mint won’t have you dreaming of appletinis; it really gets its name from the shape of its leaves. Like spearmint, apple mint is a milder mint, but features a fruit-like fragrance similar to that of many orchard fruit—which is where the common misconception comes from.
Because of its subtleness, it does best in drinks where it will not be overpowered by contrasting, bold flavors—think juices, teas, and infused waters. Highlight those fruit notes in a tasty Blackberry Mint Julip. The recipe is simple: just muddle blackberries, mint, and simple syrup in a glass, add crushed ice and Bourbon, garnish and enjoy.
If you’re still making your way through holiday candy canes, then you’re sure to recognize peppermint’s distinctively spicy aroma and flavor. A hybrid of spearmint and the highly potent watermint, peppermint is stronger and sweeter than its parent plants. Its bold warm flavor and cooling, menthol-heavy aftertaste make this type of mint a welcome addition to hot chocolate, coffee, teas, and dessert cocktails of all kinds.
But who says peppermint can’t be enjoyed all year long? Try this recipe for a Cherry Mint Julep and use the peppermint to add a refreshing cold front to the dark, tart berry notes. To make this cocktail, muddle together mint and cherries, then combine with maple and cherry liqueurs. Add Bourbon and crushed ice. Don’t forget to garnish with some of those leftover peppermint sticks!
Bergamot mint is also known as Eau de Cologne Mint or Orange Mint. As the name suggests, this ingredient is a citrusy, gentle mint. It contains primarily linalool and linalyl acetate, which are also the principal components in lavender. This herb pairs beautifully with other citrus and floral flavors, making it a delight in lemonade, cold brew iced tea, and craft cocktails.
This recipe for a Sweet Tea Mint Julep is a great way to experience bergamot mint’s flavors in the form of another Southern beverage staple. Just boil together water, sugar, and mint, then remove from heat to add the tea bags. Steep tea, add cold water, and refrigerate. When you’re ready to serve, don your Derby best and add Bourbon, crushed ice, lemon, and more mint for garnish. Now that’s a photo finish!
If you’ve got an idea for a great drink, the beverage development experts at Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Just fill out this web form or give us a call at (502) 273-5214 to get started.