Three is an important number in horse racing -- the Triple Crown, the number of the most common bets (win, place, or show), and the name of a high reward bet (the trifecta). The Mint Julep, associated with the Kentucky Derby, has three ingredients. The word julep derives from old Persian and Arabic words for rose water. Originating in the southern United States in the late 18th century, the Mint Julep had become so widespread by the 1810s that some consider it to be the first American cocktail (though technically it isn't one because it has no bitters).
2.5 ounces bourbon
6-8 mint leaves
.5 ounces super simple syrup
Combine the mint and super simple syrup into a cocktail glass, gently muddle, add the bourbon, add crushed ice, stir as if you're Secretariat coming down the home stretch at Churchill Downs, and enjoy the taste of liquid victory. Garnish with a mint sprig.
A quick word about muddling -- the key word is gently. Don't beat the hell out of it. The muddler serves double duty because you can use it to crush the ice (you can beat the hell out of this). If you do not have a muddler, the bottom of a spoon or the handle of a knife will work.
The Mint Julep became the race’s official cocktail in 1939. Interestingly, even though Kentucky was and is a huge bourbon producer, for an 18 year period ending in 2015 the Kentucky Derby served a Mint Julep that used Kentucky whiskey, not Kentucky bourbon (remember all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon).
So go win big with a Mint Julep!