Some days I sit behind my desk all day before going home to a mess of kids and some days I get to go make Mint Juleps with Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs. Okay, not really some days but this one day was a “pinch me” Derby moment. Last week I got to play dress up in Draper James with the incredible Elizabeth McCall, Assistant Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve and get her expert tips on making Derby’s signature cocktail. I mean… the only thing that could be better for a Derby-obsessed girl like me would be the chance to do it all again on May 5th.
Before we get into all the recipe details, here’s a little background on Elizabeth. At 33, Elizabeth is one of the youngest female distillers in the country. As Assistant Master Distiller, she works directly with Master Distiller Chris Morris on the innovation and development of new products in the Woodford portfolio. Yeah, she’s a big deal. I’ve been lucky enough to know Elizabeth for a few years and have watched as she has risen through the ranks at Brown-Forman which comes at no surprise since she is smart as all get out but also able to share her knowledge in a really accessible, understandable way. She’s also incredibly friendly, funny and just an all-around cool girl that you want to spend time with. She’s a boss.
Now on to the Mint Juleps. If you’re a Derby regular, you probably already know that Old Forrester is the Official Mint Julep but Woodford Reserve is the maker of the $1,000 Mint Julep (yes, that’s a thing) that is served in a sterling silver julep cup and includes ice from the limestone-filtered water at the Woodford Reserve distillery and is garnished with roses from the actual Garland of Roses, draped on the winning Derby horse.
We didn’t make that super fancy version but we did make the signature Woodford Reserve Mint Julep. Elizabeth gave me the full run-down on how to make one like a master (I still need a lot of practice) at home so I’ve grab the recipe and shared all the insider tips below.
WOODFORD RESERVE MINT JULEP
2 oz. Woodford Reserve
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Fresh Mint Leaves
Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.
Tips from the Pro:
- Don’t skip the part about rubbing the inside of the glass with fresh mint. It will make sure your entire cocktail has an even mint flavor. And don’t be skimpy, grab a a few sprigs to make sure you get lots of that mint taste.
- Fill your glass halfway with ice, garnish with fresh mint and then add MORE crushed ice so it looks like a snow cone. This will make sure that every sip is perfectly chilled.
- Don’t skimp on the bourbon… obviously. If you’ve tried a julep in the past and haven’t loved it, try it again with Woodford. I bet you’ll change your mind.
Now on to the outfits… so Woodford and Draper James have partnered up this year for Derby and I couldn’t think of a more perfect pairing. Elizabeth has been outfitted in all the cutest Draper James dresses on her media tour – follow her here – and will be wearing something extra special for Derby Day.
You all know I am a big fan of the brand especially since their dresses always fit so well. This seersucker one is a classic but I am pretty obsessed with the floral one Elizabeth is wearing here. You can do so much fun stuff with a hat or fascinator to match. You still have plenty of time to order one in time for the races. They have a bunch of more casual options too much would be so cute for a backyard Derby get together where you want to look festive and fun but not fussy – like this chambray wrap dress or this under $100 floral shirtdress.
p.s. This post is not sponsored. I know it sounds like it but I just had the opportunity to put this together thanks to some friends at Woodford and jumped at the chance. Wanted you all to know this gushing is 100% authentic fan girl.
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