10 Food-based Traditions from the American South


Mint Juleps and the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is probably one of the most famous horse races in the world. Held in early May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., the Derby attracts spectators from all over the world to people-watch, eat, drink, show off their hats, and -- oh -- watch a horse race. What else is Kentucky famous for? Bourbon. Ninety-five percent of the world's bourbon comes from the state of Kentucky [source: Schreiner].

A mint julep is a traditional bourbon drink that's very popular in the South, particularly in Kentucky. Made with bourbon, sugar, mint and water, the mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby more than 70 years ago [source: Melina].

In 1987, a company called Brown-Forman signed a contract with Churchill Downs to make its whiskey, Early Times, the official liquor brand for mint juleps. And in 2006, Brown-Forman also began offering a high-end bourbon called Woodford Reserve. A premium mint julep made with this bourbon will set you back $1,000. It includes the premium bourbon, imported Irish mint, ice from the Alps and sugar from Australia -- all served in a Tiffany & Co. gold-plated cup. Proceeds go to charity [source: Melina].