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Blackberry Mint Julep {Kentucky Derby}

written by Julie Cohn

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The first weekend in May people in Kentucky and around the United States dust off their bottle of bourbon and mix up a few mint juleps to celebrate the famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby.   My version of the traditional mint julep includes the official fruit of Kentucky, blackberries, in it. This Blackberry Mint Julep cocktail is a fun and tangy twist on the traditional original cocktail, a perfect combination of bourbon, mint, and the sweet and sassy tang of blackberry.

Did you know the mint julep, traditionally considered a “southern” cocktail, originated in the 1800s as a tonic to quiet an upset stomach?  Early mint julep recipes included gin-based, as well as wine and bourbon-based juleps?  Since 1938, the mint julep has been the “unofficial” cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs. Similar to a mojito, a mint julep uses bourbon instead of rum.

Blackberry Mint Julep

  • 8-10 Fresh blackberries
  • 4 Tbsp. Baker’s Sugar
  • 5 oz. Kentucky Bourbon
  • 6-8 Sprigs of Fresh Mint, snipped fine
  • 2  Whole Mint Leaves
  • Splash of Club Soda

(Serves 2)

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Divide the blackberries into two high ball glasses or traditional mint julep cocktail cups.  Sprinkle with the 2 Tbsp baker’s sugar (per glass) and add the mint leaves that have been snipped with herb scissors.  Using a muddling tool, smash the blackberries, mint, and sugar together.  The smashing of the fruit and mint leaves allows essential oils in the mint to blend in the glass with the sugar, releasing fresh flavor.

Blackberry Mint Julep 9

Add 2 1/2 oz.of bourbon to each glass and give a stir.  Fill the cocktail glasses with crushed or cubed ice and top off with a splash of club soda.

Blackberry Mint Julep 6

Garnish with 1-2 mint leaves.

 

If fresh blackberries are not available for the Blackberry Mint Julep, use frozen blackberries and allow to thaw before blending.  Also, if you wish to be authentic, use 2 sugar cubes instead of the baker’s sugar, although the baker’s sugar dissolves easier in the bourbon.

 

Need something for dessert for your Kentucky Derby party?  Try this bourbon-soaked Kentucky Derby Pie!

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1 comment

Mary Frances 05/07/2014 at 2:34 pm

Those blackberries are gorgeous, so fresh! I love the idea of pairing them with mint, excellent recipe!

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