Less than a month away from the 148th annual Kentucky Derby on May 7—aka the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”—the event’s Presenting Sponsor, Woodford Reserve, has unveiled a new program to charitably, historically, and imbibingly mark the grand occasion—and, yes, the newest Kentucky Derby julep recipe.
The famed whiskey distillery based in Versailles, KY has announced its $1,000 Mint Julep Charity Program—which honors Kentucky’s (and, thus, bourbon’s) French connections while also supporting one of the most beloved equine charities in the state.
“The French connections to Kentucky are significant—from Versailles, the home of our distillery, to Louisville where the Derby is run and which was named after King Louis XVI,” says Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. “Cheers—or as the French would say ‘Sante’—to Derby 148.”
Saluting Derby 148 and the race’s traditional whiskey cocktail, Woodford Reserve has produced 148 commemorative gold and silver mint julep cups, now available for retail: here.
Crafted by top Louisville-based jeweler From the Vault, the one-of-a-kind chalices are engraved with a thoroughbred design and studded with rubies in the shape of a horseshoe—a nod to both Versailles KY (home to some of the country’s top thoroughbred breeders) and Versailles, France (site of the famous palace and former royal residence). All but 18 of the cups are traditional silver and retail for $1,000. The remaining 18 are gold—for $2,500.
The program’s charitable cause is about as heart-warming as it gets. Proceeds from Woodford Reserve cup sales benefit Old Friends Farm, a retirement ranch where past-their-prime thoroughbreds can live out the rest of their days with dignity and peace. Launched with a single horse in 2003 by former Boston Globe film critic, Michael Blowen, the program has since grown into a 236-acre property that’s home to over 240 former racehorses—including some superstars like ’97 Kentucky Derby- and Preakness-crowned Silver Charm.
“By promoting these once celebrated horses through a campaign of education and tourism, our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of equine aftercare,” notes the facility, which is now ranked among the top tourist destinations in Kentucky.
On Derby Day, an estimated 120,000 mint juleps will be served to a crowd of about 150,000 people at Churchill Downs. Woodford Reserve’s signature take on this sweet-minty classic is the French Mint Julep. Derived from ingredients found at France’s Palace of Versailles (where House of Bourbon Kings Louis XIV, XV, and XVI resided), they include the essential oils of fresh orange and lemon peel, as well as pomegranate—and of course mint.
Commemorative “$1,000 Mint Julep Charity Program” cups are available for sale here and can be picked up at Churchill Downs on Derby Day at the $1,000 Mint Julep Experience near the paddock. Shipping options are not available.
Try to nab one of the limited-edition Kentucky Derby bottles, featuring equine artwork by Jaime Corum, and whip up one of these fine cocktails come Derby Day. We’ve got the official 2022 Kentucky Derby julep and more.
Best Cocktails to Enjoy During the Kentucky Derby
1. Woodford Reserve Bourbon Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
- 2 oz Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- ½ Woodford Reserve Mint Julep Cocktail Syrup
- 3 Fresh Mint Leaves
- Crushed Ice
- Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside a julep cup or a rocks glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice. Stir.
- Garnish with more crushed ice, a sprig of fresh mint, and dust with powdered sugar.
2. Woodford Reserve Spire
- 1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 2 oz. Lemonade
- 1 oz. Cranberry Juice
- Add ingredients to mixing glass and stir. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
3. Strawberry Fields
Created by Woodford Reserve Chicago Brand Ambassador Sergio Serna
- 1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 1 oz Giffard Fraise Des Bois (or any strawberry liqueur)
- 0.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- Topped with Sparkling Wine (sparkling rosé also an option)
- Combine Woodford Reserve bourbon, Giffard, lemon juice, and ice in a shaker tin. Shake for 10 seconds.
- Strain into a flute and top with sparkling wine, garnish with strawberry.
4. Coco Derby
Created by Woodford Reserve Los Angeles Brand Ambassador Joshua Lucas
- 1.5oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon
- 1oz Coconut Cream
- .75oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
- .5oz – Giffard Grapefruit Liqueur
- 3oz of Cremant Sparkling Wine
- 3 Rose Petals
- Pinch of sea salt
- Add all ingredients into a shaker tin and shake with ice.
- Decant into a large coupe glass, applying a fine strain. Top with 3oz of Cremant bubbly. Garnish with rose petal.
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