By Paige Rhodes

Everyone expects to see Mint Juleps on your Derby Day spread, but instead of doing the same thing as last year and the year before that, try this twist on the traditional cocktail. Instead of diluting your drink with unnecessary water from the crushed or shaved ice, substitute granita for even more flavor. In this Mint Julep version, you’ll infuse the granita — an Italian semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and various flavorings — with fresh mint and a splash of crème de menthe. Pour over your desired amount of bourbon to finish for an original take on the official cocktail of The Kentucky Derby.

Mint Julep Granita
Serves: 6

5 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar
5 to 6 sprigs of mint, plus more for garnish
2 tsp crème de menthe
6-12 ounces of bourbon, depending on how strong you like them
Powdered sugar for garnish

In a medium pot over medium-low heat, combine the water and sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves, about two minutes. Take the pot off the heat and put in the fresh mint. Cover the pot and allow the mixture to steep for at least 30 minutes. Add the crème de menthe, pour the mixture into a large casserole dish, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for two hours. After two hours, remove it from the freezer and scrape the ice using the tongs of a fork until it resembles a slushy texture. Return to the freezer and freeze for at least four hours or overnight.

Scrape the ice one last time. Spoon the crushed ice into each cup and top with 1-2 ounces of bourbon. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish.

For more Derby drink recipes and food ideas, go here or consider making this sweet treat.