While of course Kentucky is the epicenter of the excitement, Derby Day is a highly anticipated event across the country, prompting hosts and hostesses all over the U.S. to plan parties around the “fastest two minutes in sports.” And while elaborate hats may or may not be part of the dress code, it’s pretty much required to serve the traditional Kentucky Derby drink: the mint julep.
There’s something about the potency of the classic cocktail that’s somewhat appealing, but every year we like to try a version that puts a new twist on the original, and the recipe for this year’s take incorporates an ingredient that we can all feel good about: green tea. From the Denver-based organic tea company Teatulia comes a mint julep recipe adapted from Justin Russell of the Denver champagne bar Corridor 44 that’s bright and refreshing thanks to Teatulia’s appropriately grassy green tea (which nicely balances the local spirit recommended, Strahan’s Colorado Whiskey) and a substantial squeeze of lemon. Here’s how to make it at home:
Green Tea Mint Julep
For each cocktail:
Juice of half a lemon, plus lemon wedge for garnish
Sugar to rim glass
2 springs of mint
1 ounce simple syrup (or 1/2 ounce agave nectar)
2 ounces of brewed Teatulia Green Tea
1.5 ounces Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey (or your whiskey of choice)
Instructions: Bring 4 ounces of water to a boil and pour over tea bag (you’ll brew enough tea to make two cocktails). Let steep for 3 minutes, then strain and discard tea bag. Allow brewed tea to cool to room temperature. For each cocktail, juice a lemon half. Rub the flesh side of the juiced lemon half along the rim of a cocktail glass, then roll the rim around in sugar to coat. Add one spring of mint, lemon juice, and simple syrup to the glass and muddle together with the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice, then pour in the brewed tea and whiskey. Stir a few times and garnish with the remaining spring of mint and a small wedge of lemon.
Enjoy this lighter take on the drink tomorrow as you watch the excitement at Churchill Downs, and check out more of Teatulia’s recipes for future tea-infused libations.