It’s 52 degrees in Atlanta right now, which is downright glacial when you think about the fact that it’s May, and well, this is GA. You’d expect this sort of thing from places like Chicago and New York, but we had temps in the 90’s in March, and weather is just not supposed to go backwards, us Georgians could very well start suffering from frostbite. But anyways, for the sake of this post, we’re going to pretend that it’s a balmy 90 degrees, and that we’re sitting at Churchill Downs, waiting for the race to start. And oh, what’s that, oh it’s my Mint Julep. Ahhhh, that’s nice.
Ok, fantasies aside, let’s rewind to 2012′s race. *Cue rewind music!*
On May 5th, thousands of spectators flocked to a track in Kentucky to watch what is arguably “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”. But while the horse race is exciting, what they’re really there for, are the Mint Juleps. Since 1938, Mint Juleps have been a popular refresher at the Derby and each year almost 120,000 are sold. But what is it that makes this drink worth writing about today? Well a standard Julep is made with four ingredients, mint leaf, bourbon, sugar, and water.
But this Julep is something special, and it better be, because it will set you back $1,000. Created by Churchill Downs and Woodford Reserve, this ritzy drink oozes exclusivity. Only 75 drinks will be made to symbolize the 75th anniversary of the Julep being the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Each collector cup will be numbered and presented in a special casing made from the same wood as the bourbon barrels. 65 cups will be traditional pewter with a high polish, and hand engraved with a scene depicting a horse along with the date and will be accompanied by a sterling sipping straw.
But those are just an appetizer when you think about those last 10 cups. These last ten, or the “Prestige” cups, are cast in sterling silver and then plated with 24 karat gold. And if that wasn’t opulent enough, check out the horseshoe on the front which is studded with 43 diamonds. Each stone selected and set by hand and weigh in at a total of 1 carat. But all of this extra luxury comes at a price, and at $2,000 it’s double that of those pedestrian $1,000 cups. Although, if truth be told, I like the looks of the pewter cup better. I like the horsey scene.
And it’s not just the cups that make this drink so delectable. This year, each Mint Julep will feature double the pleasure, and double the fun, although I’m guessing that no doublemint gum will be involved, or twins for that matter, sorry guys. And what that means is that it will include twice barreled bourbon from Woodford Reserve, two kinds of sugar including mint julep sugar and vanilla sugar, two kinds of mint including lemon mint and Kentucky spearmint, and double the ice. I have to say it’s that last one that really struck me as unusual, that is until I read on to find out that not only are they using ice from Versailles, Kentucky, but they’re schlepping the stuff in from France as well. That seems like a lot of work for water that’s only redeeming quality is that when decanted it doesn’t just pour, it “le pours”. To me, that’s not exactly worth using up all those air miles.