There’s nothing like the two fastest minutes in sports.
On May 6, the Kentucky Derby takes place in Louisville and sees the finest racing horses go head to head.
But Derby Day is about so much more than the race. It’s a city-wide, world-famous extravaganza all about tradition. The race itself signals the end of the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival that takes over Louisville, not to mention all the pomp and circumstance of the day itself. There’s a reason people dressed up in their finest ensembles and hats.
One way to commemorate the special day is to partake in the Kentucky Derby’s charitable and most distinctive annual traditions: the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep. This year honors the 50th anniversary of Secretariat winning the Derby and all proceeds will benefit the Secretariat Foundation, which was created by Secretariat owner Penny Chenery to support thoroughbred and equine-related industries.
A nod to his racing colors and the year he won, the Secretariat edition of the cup features sapphires and engraving of 1973. Just 150 cups have been made by Louisville-based jewelry From the Vault— 100 in silver ($1,000) and 50 in gold ($3,500). The gold cups will also include name engraving on the bottom and a handwritten autograph from Secretariat jockey Ron Turcotte. What’s more, all cups will be nestled in silk artworking featuring Secretariat at the Churchill Downs winner’s circle.
Purchases must be made before April 26 and must be picked up at Churchill Downs on Derby Day at the $1,000 Mint Julep Experience.
However, if you can’t make it to Derby Day, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a top-notch Kentucky Derby experience. To elevate your at-home viewing, gather your friends and welcome them over to watch the race and indulge in traditional Derby bites and sips.
Courtesy of Woodford Reserve, you’ll find the official mint julep recipe below. You’ll also find recipes from chef Michael Montilla (formerly of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago) for the California version of Derby traditional dish The Hot Brown and bananas foster. Montilla treated guests to these dishes in his Los Angeles home last month to much delight for the debut of the 2023 $1,000 Mint Julep.
1 oz. chestnut liqueur
1 sprig of mint, for garnish
1 stalk of Virginia bluebells, for garnish
Mix, then pour over a julep cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells.
Makes 12 Sliders: Woodford Bourbon Sweet glazed ham sliders with Gruyere.
1 Large Skillet
1 Wooden spoon
1 Stick Lighter
1 Serrated / Bread Knife
1 Panini Press or a griddle
Ingredients For The Glaze
2 Cups Dark Brown sugar
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Heinz Ketchup
1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 -3/4 Cup Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Ingredients For The Ham & Cheese
1.5 pounds Sliced Sweet Glazed Ham (Honey baked Ham is a great option)
1 pound Shredded Gruyere cheese
Ingredients for the Buns
12 Kings Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup of Unsalted melted butter
4 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Cup dried minced onions
1/4 Cup of dark poppy seeds
For The Glaze:
On the stove top, using a large skillet, on medium heat, slowly melt the butter (2-3 minutes)
Once melted, add the brown sugar and mix with a whisk until combined and sugar granules have dissolved (2-3 minutes)
Add the ketchup, Worcestershire and mix well until combined (2-3 minutes)
Take the skillet off the burner and slowly and carefully incorporate the bourbon into the skillet
At this point, return to the burner and carefully tilt the skillet so the mixture ignites. Again, CAREFULLY!
You can also use a stick lighter to ignite.
Using a wooden spoon, mix until the bourbon burns off (1-2 minutes)
Reduce on medium / low heat until a glaze (Syrup consistency) is reached.
Once the glaze is made, add the sliced ham to the skillet, turn off the heat and allow the ham to bathe in the glaze for 15-20 minutes, or until room temperature.
For the Buns
Combine Dijon, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, set to the side
Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the buns with the mixture
Carefully sprinkle the poppy seeds first and then top off with the minced dried onions
Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes max
Remove from the oven and allow to cool down to room temperature
Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the buns horizontally and evenly
Once buns are sliced, gently brush the bottom of the buns with the ham glaze
Now start layering the glazed ham, even layers
Add the shredded Gruyere and close with the tops of the buns
Using a Panini Press or Griddle, place the assembled sliders into the press and carefully close the press, insuring the tops are in contact with the press.(Not Smushed!)
If using a griddle or flat top, using a flat bacon press / weight, apply the weight to the tops to press gently.
Once the cheese has melted (2-4 minutes) you’re ready to serve
1 cup Butter,
1 cup Brown Sugar
4 Bananas ( just ripe, not too soft) sliced into rounds
2 cups Woodford Bourbon ( carefully ignite)
1 cup Heavy cream
4 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream
In a large heavy bottom sauté pan over medium/high heat, add butter and brown sugar and sauté until combined.
Add sliced bananas and mix well with the butter / sugar mixture. 3-4 minutes
Once bananas have been incorporated, remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the Woodford bourbon.
Return to heat and if using an open flame, slightly and carefully, tilt the pan so the flame makes contact with the liquid. It will ignite!
If not using an open flame, once the liquor has been added, carefully ignite using a long stick lighter.
Once ignited, Allow the liquor to evaporate ( 2-3 minutes)
At this point, add the heavy cream and incorporate.
Carefully, using a large spoon, pour over scooped ice cream, equally dividing the bananas.
Can be garnished with fresh mint!
Photography by: Courtesy of Woodford Reserve