Nov 102014

day drinkingI recently ordered this “Day Drinking in the South” long-sleeved t-shirt from Shop Football Tees. It is a part of their fall collection and I am relying on long-sleeved tees to keep me comfortable and cozy now that the temperatures are dropping. I love the color combination– the green and hot pink are so cute together. This color is “grass green” and it is also available in “crimson” which is a washed, rusty red color. Very cute. Being a Lilly girl, the green and pink combo was an easy choice for me.

I wore this shirt the first weekend I had it. It’s very comfortable and perfect to relax in while still looking cute. It got me thinking about what a unique, laid back atmosphere the South really has. There has definitely been a surge in the popularity of “Sunday Fundays” and brunching with booze lately. Now, I am not saying this recent phenomenon is exclusive to the South, but it has certainly been embraced wholeheartedly down here! And what was the original day drink? The mint julep…

Mint juleps are bourbon-based drinks traditionally associated with horse racing, particularly the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday of each May in Louisville at Churchill Downs track. 120,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs over derby weekend. That requires over 1,000 lbs of mint leaves! Mint juleps just consist of simple syrup, bourbon, and mint. They are sometimes served in a silver or pewter julep cup, which frosts better than a regular glass and keeps it very cold.

Early Times is the bourbon of choice at Churchill Downs, but any kind can be substituted. Other popular bourbon brands include Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Makers Mark. They have special bottles made for the derby, as well as bottles of premixed juleps! That would be great for a party.


There are also flavored bourbons that would be neat to experiment with. Bird Dog makes a blackberry bourbon that I think would taste great with mint.

Bourbons are a type of whiskey, so if you have a favorite whiskey that is not a bourbon (like Jack Daniels or Crown Royal), you could also use that and it would not greatly affect the taste.

So, what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey?

  • A bourbon must be made in the United States.
  • A bourbon must contain 51 percent corn.
  • A bourbon must be aged in new oak charred barrels.
  • A bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
  • A bourbon must be bottled at no less than 80 proof.

I’m a whiskey lover (that is what happens when you live in Tennessee!) and I have been inspired by this shirt to take on the challenge of finding the ultimate mint julep recipe to share with you all, and I think I have done it! It was hard work to make and taste test so many yummy drinks, but someone has to do it, right?

 What You Need:

  • Old-fashioned (also sometimes called a rocks) glass or a traditional silver/pewter julep glass if you’re fancy. I’m not fancy.
  • 2 oz. Bourbon/whiskey of your choice
  • 2 oz. simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Mint
  • Muddler (or a spoon if you do not have a muddler)
  • Crushed ice



Start out by making your simple syrup. You can make more if you would like, it just takes equal parts sugar and water! It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month, so if you think you will be using a lot, go ahead and make more! This is used in a lot of different drink recipes.

Mix one cup of water and one cup of sugar over low heat on the stovetop until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is clear (stir frequently). Store in the refrigerator.


  1. Put mint leaves in the bottom of an old fashioned glass. I usually do a thin layer across the bottom, but if you love mint, add more! It is hard to extract a lot of flavor, so don’t be afraid to do extra.
  2. Pour simple syrup over the top of the mint leaves.
  3. Muddle. Muddling just means to crush the leaves to release the flavor. If you don’t have a muddler, the back of a spoon works fine.
  4. Fill the glass with ice (on top of the syrup/mint combination).
  5. Add bourbon.
  6. Stir, stir, stir!

That is it! Just three ingredients, a few steps, and you’re ready to enjoy this traditional Southern mixed drink.

Here are some things I stumbled upon while researching mint juleps and want to share:

Mint Julep Spoon from etsy

Kentucky Bourbon Trail tours

Yessss. Definitely going to check this out for a weekend trip.

Julep cups

Pretty reasonable options on Amazon, if you for whatever reason think you need a dedicated julep chalice.

My “Day Drinking in the South” shirt is available from Shop Football Tees, in these two colors!