Traditionally, the mint julep cocktail is consumed on Kentucky Derby day in a silver cup made of sterling, pewter or metalized plastic. Some cups are specially designed and engraved, with silver beads below the rim. On race day at Churchill Downs, today's mint juleps are sold in decorative souvenir glasses. Typically in a bar, this classic drink is served in a tumbler or rocks glass.
A mint julep is served in a metal cup because metal is a conductor and therefore enables the drink to stay cold longer so the ice does not dilute the liquor as quickly. Bar patrons most commonly receive a mint julep in a 6- to 10-ounce rocks glass, sometimes referred to as an old fashioned glass. This short tumbler has a thick base and a wide rim, which enables a bartender to easily muddle a cocktail's dry ingredients, such as mint, before adding ice, liquor and mixers. A mint julep is sometimes served in a 10- to 14-ounce Collins glass, which is a tall, slender glass.
The mint julep is made of bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint and crushed ice. On Derby day, just before the race, "My Old Kentucky Home" is played, and people raise their silver cups high as a traditional gesture in anticipation of the big event.