We’re off to the races! The Kentucky Derby kicks off on May 1st this year, and it’s one of our favorite events of the spring season. It’s fast-paced fancy fun, and it’s also the birthplace of one of our favorite drinks, the mint julep! And with National Mint Julep day on May 30th, there’s no better excuse to order one during your next meal out in Smyrna.

Origins of the Mint Julep

The mint julep is widely believed to have originated in Kentucky, with early uses being for medicinal purposes. In 1938, it became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, and today, the mint julep remains a popular cocktail particularly in the southern region of the United States. Its popularity at the derby remains unwavering: over the course of the two-day event, Churchill Downs bartenders serve more than 120,000 mint juleps every year.

What goes into a mint julep? The drink is made with bourbon whiskey, water, sugar, and mint. Of course, the secret to making the perfect mint julep lies in the muddling. By lightly bruising the mint, the herb’s distinctive aromas and flavors are released. Mixed with sugar, water, and fine bourbon, it’s a delicately sweet and refreshing summer cocktail perfect for sipping any time of day.

Foods that Pair with Mint Julep

So what do you eat alongside the classic mint julep? At McCray’s Tavern Smyrna, we have just the thing. This bright southern cocktail pairs perfectly with salty southern snacks like Pimento Cheese Fritters and tomato jam, or our very own Big A$$ Pretzel, which comes with delicious melty cheese for dipping. Looking for something more hearty? Try our Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, with chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato, and homemade pickles. Or try the Montfort Square Burger, topped with homemade pimento cheese, thick-cut crispy bacon, and jalapeno pickled in-house. Don’t forget to end the meal with a seriously southern dessert: we’ve got seasonal specialties like pecan pie and bread pudding for the perfect ending to your meal.

Big Azz Pretzel

Where to Get a Mint Julep in Smyrna

If you’re looking for a mint julep in Smyrna, stop by McCray’s Tavern! Your favorite Smyrna restaurant has cultivated a reputation for having one of the best bourbon selections in the Atlanta area, and our bartenders are known for showing off their outstanding mixology skills every night. For lunch, brunch, dinner, and late-night, McCray’s Tavern is serving up some seriously southern specialties.

Don’t miss the Kentucky Derby this year starting on May 1st! We’ll be donning our fanciest hats and celebrating with unique specials and of course, mint juleps. Then join us on National Mint Julep Day on Sunday, May 30th, and order another round during our world-famous Weekender Brunch. There’s no better way to spend an afternoon in Smyrna. Come grab a seat on the patio!