Prepare yourself for big hats and even bigger bourbon hangovers, because this Saturday is the 136th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Since the actual horse race doesn’t last very long (the derby is often called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports"), there will be plenty of time to explore downtown Louisville, especially the part of Main Street once known as “Whiskey Row,” now home to the Urban Bourbon Trail, a group of nine restaurants and bars offering bourbon flights and special bourbon cocktails like the mint julep, the official drink of the Derby.
Make your trailhead Proof on Main, located in the 21C Museum Hotel. Proof’s bartender, Jenni Pittman (pictured), just won third place in a mint julep contest earlier this month for her creation, the Julep Down Under. Pittman’s take on the classic cocktail cuts down on headache inducing refined sugars, and replaces them with natural sweeteners like mango and eucalyptus syrup. And there’s even better news! Just mention "Carry On" at the Proof on Main bar to get this special $10 cocktail (regularly $11).
Even if you can’t make it to Louisville, you can still try out Pittman’s special julep at home with her recipe, found below:
Julep Down Under by Jenni Pittman
-1.5 oz. mango puree (combine flesh of 2 mango & 1/2 cup fresh brewed tea in blender, strain through fine mesh)
-1 oz. eucalyptus syrup (steep eucalyptus leaves, wrap in cheese cloth for easy removal, in 2 cups of almost boiling water for 10 minutes, add 3 tablespoons of honey to sweeten)
-2 oz. Bourbon
Gently muddle several mint leaves, add eucalyptus syrup, add mango puree, stir with spoon, add 2 oz. bourbon, crushed ice, garnish with generous slice of mango and bouquet of mint leaves.
Take advantage of the 21C Museum Hotel’s “Just Add Bourbon Package,” which includes one-night’s accommodations, two cocktails at the Proof on Main bar, breakfast for two at Proof on Main, two passports to the Urban Bourbon Trail, and a take-home bottle of bourbon to recreate your Southern revelries.
Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.