The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is of the most famous horse races in the country and it is run the first weekend in May every year. Although not everyone is a horse racing fan, some of the traditions associated with Derby Day are so much fun that it is easy to get into the spirit of things. One tradition is for ladies to dress up and wear huge, fun hats to the track. The other, of course, is to drink Mint Juleps.
A Mint Julep is a cocktail made with boubon, mint, sugar and crushed ice that has been served at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby. They’re tasty and refreshing, and the flavors in the drink translate very well to other applications – like this Mint Julep Sorbet. The sorbet, like the drink, is made with sugar, bourbon and mint. I added a little bit of heavy cream to give it an extra creamy texture and to take the edge off the bourbon. The finished sorbet is light and even more refreshing than the cocktail that inspired it, with a bright mint flavor and a hint of bourbon.
I made this sorbet in my Blendtec blender, which actually has an ice cream setting on it. The ice cream setting is just a very, very high speed and you should be able to get the same (or similar) results with other blenders, although you might end up with some fine bits of ice in some models that aren’t as powerful. You could also do the same in a food processor. The sorbet is easy to scoop right out of the blender, but putting in the freezer for a couple of hours will firm it up a bit more and take it from soft serve to scoopable.
Mint Julep Sorbet
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp mint extract OR 1 oz fresh mint leaves*
3 tbsp bourbon
3 cups ice
In a blender, combine sugar, heavy cream, mint extract (or fresh mint-infused heavy cream) and bourbon. Add in ice.
Blend on medium speed until ice is well broken up, then turn blender to its highest setting and blend until thick and smooth. Transfer into a freezer-safe container, cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours, until firm and scoopable.
When serving, garnish with fresh mint.
*If using fresh mint: Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan and add in fresh mint leaves, lightly bruised with a wooden spoon or muddle. Allow to cool, letting the mint steep for 30-60 minutes. Chill infused cream before proceeding.