Spectating at Historic Churchill Downs
[Spear]mint leaf. Sugar. Water. And of course, bourbon.
There you have yourself a fancy little drink that has been made pretty well-known at the mighty famous Churchill Downs. The drink is traditionally served in a silver or pewter cup and etiquette dictates that one should only hold this lovely cup by the bottom and top edges so as to allow frost to form on the cup’s exterior. Oh my.
A staple at the Derby since 1938, Churchill Downs serves up on average around 120,000 mint juleps over the two-day Derby event. And if you’re willing to spend a pretty penny, to the tune of $1,000, they’ll serve it it to you in a really swanky souvenir cup made of sterling silver, which includes an engraved horse and rider with a gold-plated rose garland and gold-plated straw. (On the plus side, you can walk away feeling good that a portion of those proceeds go towards retired race horses).
If you’re not a big mint julep fan, there is always the Oak Lily, which is composed of vodka, triple sec, sweet and sour, and cranberry juice. Perhaps not as famous as its minty cousin, but tasty nonetheless!
So here’s a few did you knows (which I had to include because I happen to think the numbers are staggering…and awesome):
1. In the two-day Derby event, Churchill Downs will sell 40,000 of these Oak Lillies (and the 120,000 mint juleps I already mentioned).
2. To make and serve these drinks requires 7,800 liters of bourbon (Woodford Reserve), 475,000 lbs. of shaved ice, 2,250 lbs. of mint (all of which is locally sourced), and goodness knows how many pounds of sugar (I wish I did).
3. No-hard-stuff drinkers will consume 425,000 cans of beer.
4. Derby attendees will scarf down impressive amounts of food as well. Based on averages, we’re talking: 18,000 Kentucky BBQ sandwiches, 142,000 hot dogs, 32,400 jumbo shrimp, 9,700 lbs. of chicken, 11,520 gourmet sausages, 13,800 lbs. of beef, 4,500 lbs. of pork chops, 560 roasted turkeys, 9,000 scallops, 8,000 lbs. of potatoes, 1,892 sheets of Derby Pies, 30,000 cookies, and 300,000 strawberries.
I think it’s safe to say that the Kentucky Derby draws some seriously hungry fans. And I love it!