Let’s talk about mint, because the Derby mint is important. The Derby’s mint has been sourced locally from Dohn and Dohn Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky for more than 30 years. And there is lots of it. Derby fans devour more than 300 crates of mint during Derby weekend. That’s nearly 4000 pounds of mint, which is almost two tons, which is enough for 127,000 mint juleps and the thousands of mint desserts that are served to guests at Churchill Downs. 

The mint julep debuted at the Derby in the 1930s. Today, the Old Forester Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It’s a nice fit considering that Old Forester bourbon was introduced in Kentucky in 1870, just five years before the Derby. At the Derby, we use a ready- to-serve cocktail to make all those mint juleps. And it takes more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep to provide a cocktail home for all that mint!

If you’re gonna do it the Derby Way you’re gonna need mint. Lots of it. In Louisville, we just grow it ourselves. Here are a few tips from Dohn and Dohn Gardens about how to grow your own mint so you can serve mint juleps all year long.

  1. Remember to grow your mint in the vegetable garden, not  in the rose garden or any place it could get unwanted pesticide contamination.
  2. Mint likes a PH of 6- 7, lots of water and well-drained soil.
  3. Be careful were you plant it. It is extremely invasive.
  4. Mint is gravitropic. That means that the stems tend to turn upward when it is stored on its side. The farm packs it in an upright position, keeping it moist and refrigerated.
  5. Most importantly, support your local grower!
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