Traditions Of The Kentucky Derby

It’s time to get out that big hat and start prepping your mint julep, because the kickoff to the Triple Crown is just a few days away. The Kentucky Derby is known for its timeless traditions that date back over 200+ years. But have you ever wondered where these traditions come from? Kentucky native and Master Distiller, Chris Morris, along with English master mixologist, Tom Vernon, have the crown jewels surrounding the Kentucky Derby from the place where it all happens.

Tell us a bit more about the history of the Derby and how did bourbon become the beverage of choice?

"Most people don't realize that that the Kentucky Derby was inspired by the English Epsom Derby... so a lot of the traditions we still hold true today comes from the English in origin. So getting dressed up for the Derby... women with great hats... men in coats and ties... very English. And bourbon has been hand-in-hand with horse racing in Kentucky, they have grown up together. Our ancestors brought their own stills and horses to Kentucky. Horse farms made their own whiskey and bred their horses. And when you would get together at county fairs you would race your horse and compare whiskey... and we've been doing that for over 200 years."

Tom you are the mixologist... How can we bring the tradition of the bourbon centric mint julep into our homes?
"Well this year we are doing the $1,000 mint julep that we do every year... this is our 12th year doing it with Woodford Reserve and this year as Chris was saying with the English history and heritage we are really going to try to translate that into our $1,000 mint julep. The way we are going to do that is obviously by starting with our Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, and we are going to accentuate that with some beautiful English ingredients so we are using Elderflower cordial, some Pimm's English Liqueur. We are also using some Earl Grey bitters and mint simple syrup. So I am going to go ahead and mix one up for you guys and show you what the $1,000 mint julep looks like.
And one of those traditions for mint juleps is the cup and the cup has traditionally been pewter or silver but these are $1,000 mint julep cups so they are unique and absolutely gorgeous. The important thing is, the proceeds from each cup go to equine based charity and this year the proceeds go to the Kentucky Derby Museum because we need to protect that heritage of horse racing and the Derby for generations to come.
There you go... here`s our $1,000 mint julep cup ready to roll.