In 2014, I went to my first Kentucky Derby. No, unfortunately it was not in the millionaires club or as a guest, I was working. But hey, I got a free front row seat (I was literally sitting in the dirt with a DSLR, photo below) and was in the winners circle when California Chrome came walking in $2,000,000 richer. So not too shabby.
Where I am going with this is that when I was there, there were mint juleps everywhere. I was working, so I couldn't try one, but they were also being poured directly from a bottle. No real mint. So I wondered, what does this actually taste like? Well, when I got back to NY I decided I would try one and boy oh boy, I can see why they like them in Kentucky. It's a stiff drink that has an extremely floral finish and a beautifully delicate layer of mint that lingers after every sip.
I can't stress enough the crushed ice here folks. It really makes the drink special and it keeps the mint leaves at the bottom of your drink. Start by muddling the mint using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon. Place a few muddled leaves into your intended glass, top it with crushed ice, and keep the majority of your mint in your cocktail-shaker (or mason jar). Oh, and here's my seat at the 2014 Kentucky Derby...
Add in your sugar (simple syrup or agave) and bourbon into your shaker. Shake and double strain into your cup of crushed ice (we used a copper mug but any rocks glass will do).