With derby time nearly upon us — May 4 and 5 — there’s no better time to talk about the event’s popular drink of choice, the mint julep, which has been a traditional beverage of Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Kentucky Derby for almost a century.
It is nearly impossible to associate another cocktail and sporting event so intimately interwoven as the potent, leafy Southern sipper in the sleek silver cup. Predating the Kentucky Derby, the handmade sterling cups have been coveted and collected by notable influentials since the early 1800s. What could be more aristocratic than sipping a legendary drink from sterling silver?
As the temperature rises in Las Vegas, veteran mixologist and cocktail culture builder Andrew Pollard, who has created original recipes and cocktail menus during his illustrious hospitality career, delivers a refreshing approach to the classic drink that meets at the crossroads of the mint julep and a whiskey sour.
“The beauty of ‘Jack Frost,’ is that it’s designed as a year-round cocktail, “ said Pollard, assistant director of beverage development for Wynn Las Vegas, about his mint julep creation.
“Coconut, an ingredient that is truly a jack-of-all-trades seasonally, makes an easy transition from the cozy fireside, to a sunny patio.” His interpretation is available at Parasol Up and Parasol Down inside Wynn.
Pollard says the julep is a family of drinks that were originally a popularized brandy-based cocktail throughout the 18th and most of the 19th centuries, until falling victim to phylloxera, an epidemic that nearly wiped out Europe’s grape production in the mid-1800s.
“As a result, many traditional cocktails, (especially Southern/New Orleans) began utilizing bourbon and rye whiskies in lieu of cognac due to availability,” he said. “As there are no rules as to how you fancy your julep, you can let your creativity really run wild.”
Pollard’s twist on the julep uniquely binds the guest to a new experience that is also a nod to the traditional julep, which was the makeup of an Old Fashioned.
“It (Jack Frost) is a ‘gateway’ to whiskey, if you will, taking guests from an 80-proof clear spirit, to an 80-proof aged spirit that offers significantly more complexity, flavor and texture,” Pollard explained.
Jack Frost Recipe
2 ounces Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack whiskey
1//2 ounce Clément Mahina Coco liqueur
1/2 ounce Cocktail & Sons Mint and Lemon Verbena
3-4 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin with ice. Shake and strain neat into a julep cup. Pack with ice, garnish with chocolate mint bouquet and dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with a chocolate mint bouquet and powdered sugar.
“I personally love a little julep in my life … a little bartender’s mouthwash anyone?” he added with a grin.