The Super Bowl has hours of pregame before any action on the field, but at least NFL games last a few hours. The Kentucky Derby has six-hours of pregame leading to a horse race that only lasts a few minutes. The upside here is that since the race is so short, you’ve got a lot more time to enjoy Mint Juleps. You know, the classic cocktail from the Bluegrass State made with bourbon (obviously), sugar, water, fresh mint, and crushed ice (usually served in a traditional silver or pewter mug).
The julep is the official drink of Churchill Downs (since 1939) and its arrival proclaims the official start to the “real” spring. You know, the one with the actual nice, warm, sunny weather that almost feels like summer. And also lots of booze.
Just like you, bartenders enjoy making (and drinking) mint juleps. But as with any cocktail, they have their own specific spirits they like best when mixing one. That’s why we asked some of our favorites to tell us their favorite bourbons to use when things are getting minty.
Russell’s Reserve 10 Year
Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City
“At home, this is always Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Bourbon. This is hands down the best bourbon for cocktails, with its balanced rye and spicier barrel notes (from perfect aging). Given I am rye-leaning bartender, there are under only three bourbons I would ever even think to recommend for cocktails. Russell’s Bourbon stands out alongside ryes for cocktail making, above the rest of the bourbons on the market.”