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The origins of the Mint Julep go back to the late eighteenth century in the United States. Originally prescribed as a medicine, the Julep was made with mint steeped in either aged gin, cognac, rum or brandy. Because the drink required ice and was served in a silver cup (both symbols of affluence), the original Juleps were more than likely a drink of the wealthy.
Some think that bourbon was introduced to the recipe by poor Southerners that could not afford the luxury of the finer spirits. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the Mint Julep as we know it today was widelty accepted as a bourbon-based drink.
According to the Derby Museum, the Mint Julep became the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, when they began to serve the drink in souvenir glasses for 75 cents. Today, the Kentucky Derby serves more than 120,000 Juleps over the two-day event. Wealthy or not, one thing that you can definitely bet on is that the modern Mint Julep is the perfect sipper for a warm summer day!