Coveted & Collected: The Southern Traditions Of the Julep Cup


A signature drink surely deserves a signature glass. The mint julep is synonymous with the Derby, just as the julep cup itself is representative of southern tradition. Sadly, a southern tradition that, like a forgotten old porch swing, finds itself becoming rusty. For generations, the silver julep cup served a far greater role than just a way to sip the sweet combination of sugar, mint and bourbon. They were an appropriate and popular gift for a new baby, a wedding, a christening or a graduation. They were even awarded as trophies to the winners of local golf tournaments.

These silver cups, monogrammed and dated to mark special occasions, were handed down from generation to generation. Used to serve water or a mint julep at a dinner party or as vases for the centerpiece, these cups represented the tradition and history that brought each person to the table. Of course they will always look beautiful presented on a shelf, but the myriad of uses julep cups offer is part of what makes them so special. A ding or a scratch doesn’t reduce their value, but instead adds to the luster of a well-loved family heirloom.

Families, such as our own, that have collected julep cups for many years, have preserved an important part of their history. Whether it’s our great grandfather Pappy’s first cup, our grandfather’s hole-in-one prize or the ones bearing our own initials and birth dates, each cup has its own unique, special and personal story to tell. The next time the occasion calls for it, pull one out of hiding, and add your story to the collection.

Van Winkle Tips: Using Julep Cups

  • Mix them in with the glasses on the bar at your next party.
  • Fill a few with flowers and place them around the house.
  • Add a special touch at your next family gathering by filling them with silverware on the buffet.
  • And of course, drink a mint julep!

Bourbon Recipe: Pappy's Original Mint Julep

  1. Put sugar and bruised mint at the bottom of the silver julep cup.
  2. Pack in finely cracked ice to induce proper frosting.
  3. Stick in mint sprigs.
  4. Pour in two ounces of any fine bourbon of your choice.