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The Spring Sip: Mint Julep

A sure sign of spring is the blossoming of mint juleps on bar menus. As the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep surges in popularity the first weekend in May, just as spring begins to show signs of summer weather to come.

This iconic Southern cocktail, which first appeared during the 18th century, is a refreshing and simple drink that requires only three core ingredients: bourbon, sugar and mint. Bourbon is the primary liquid in the drink, meaning you’ll want to choose a high-quality version you know you’ll enjoy.

Door County Distillery has a bourbon whiskey that’s perfect for this occasion. Founded in 2011 as an offshoot of Door Peninsula Winery, the Carlsville distillery was the first to create spirits in the county since Prohibition. Its bourbon whiskey – an American-style bourbon with a pleasant bite and smooth finish – is created with a blend of Wisconsin-grown grains aged in new American oak barrels for a little more than two years.

Historically, mint juleps were served in silver or pewter cups that the drinker held only by the bottom and top edges to allow frost to form, but today most establishments serve them in a highball glass with a sprig of mint. Sip on a mint julep this season for a classic springtime cocktail experience. The fancy hat is optional.

Mint Julep

4 mint leaves

1 tsp powdered sugar

2 tsp water

2 oz bourbon whiskey

Mint sprig as garnish

In a highball glass, muddle the mint, sugar and water. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add bourbon and stir well. Garnish with mint sprig.

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