April 27, 2018 • PEOPLE, PLACES, RECIPE

DJ Drinks: Woodford Reserve’s Mint Julep Recipe with Lou What Wear and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall

On Saturday, May 5, also known as the day of the Kentucky Derby, there’s only one thing you should be drinking: Mint Juleps.

And you can’t just drink any ol’ Mint Julep; you have to make sure it’s a proper Derby-approved Mint Julep.

Louisville’s Danielle Davis of Lou What Wear and Woodford Reserve‘s Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall (how cute are they in our Love Circle dresses below?) teamed up to bring the ultimate Mint Julep to the Love, Reese blog.

And trust us on this one: It’s the most refreshing, smoothest Mint Julep recipe you’ll find in these parts–or any other parts, for that matter.

On Elizabeth (left): Hyacinth Floral Love Circle Dress; on Danielle (right): Seersucker Love Circle Dress

But before we sat down to sip our Mint Juleps, we chatted with Danielle, who gave us the lowdown on this recipe and the Kentucky Derby in general.

Tell us about your day at Churchill Downs with Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall.

I’ve been lucky enough to know Elizabeth for a few years now, and I’ve watched as she has rocketed through the ranks at of the bourbon world, which has come as no surprise since she is such a rockstar.

Now that she’s the Assistant Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve, I thought it would be so much fun to learn how to make a Mint Julep from the master. There is nothing more quintessential Derby than making a mint julep at Churchill Downs with the Twin Spires in the background. Such a treat!

What’s your favorite thing about making Mint Juleps?

Well, I normally leave the making to the professionals, but it was fun to learn the insider tricks.

Elizabeth taught me about rubbing the inside of the glass with fresh mint before mixing the drink, which gives the drink a stronger, more complete mint flavor.

What are your top 3 tips for having the perfect Derby Day?

1. Make a plan.

Derby is not something that you can just do on a whim. Make sure you do your research on where you want to sit at the track before buying tickets. FYI: You can’t see the race with a General Admission ticket. You’re stuck in the Paddock, which is a blast but would be terribly disappointing for a first-timer expecting to see the actual horse race.

And your plan should include more than just Saturday’s main event. There’s so much going on around town; you’ll want to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the town has to offer–from parties to restaurants to distilleries.

2. Don’t skimp on the hat.

There aren’t many events you can get away with wearing a totally over the top hat or fascinator, so take advantage of it for Derby. I would never recommend wearing a simple straw hat; it’s just such a missed opportunity. Have fun with it. Think feathers, flowers, and lots of color.

On Danielle (left): Seersucker Love Circle Dress; on Elizabeth (right): Hyacinth Floral Love Circle Dress

3. Have a Mint Julep in hand when “My Old Kentucky Home” comes on. 

My absolute favorite moment of Derby Day is when everyone sings “My Old Kentucky Home” before the big race. I just got goosebumps thinking about it!

Describe this recipe in one word.

Can I have four? Derby in a glass.

Woodford Reserve’s Mint Julep Recipe

The traditional Derby Day cocktail, and a Southern ritual crafted from bourbon, simple syrup, and mint.


2 oz. Woodford Reserve
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Fresh Mint Leaves
Crushed Ice


Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.

On Danielle (left): Seersucker Love Circle Dress; on Elizabeth (right): Hyacinth Floral Love Circle Dress