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Five best mint juleps and riffs in New York City

Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, here are TONY’s picks for best mint juleps and variations on the beloved Southern cocktail in NYC.

Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Mint Julep at Death & Company

The superlatively balanced mint julep is off-menu at this high-minded cocktail drinkery, but the dim, sultry spot is primed for it with the proper accoutrement: a beautiful antique silver goblet. In this classicist rendition, the punch of Old Grand Dad 114 bourbon is tempered with demerara sugar syrup and poured over a crystalline mound of pellet ice in the frosty cup. A lush thicket of mint finishes the boozy slug, enveloping each sip with an intoxicating herbaceous fragrance. 433 E 6th St between First Ave and Ave A (212-388-0882). $14.

Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Ruby Rum at OTB

There may not be a more fitting setting for gussied-up Derby boozing: This gorgeous Williamsburg newcomer elevates a racetrack theme with antique telephones and horse-topped trophies. The spin on the Southern favorite is equally elegant, swapping in molassesy Gosling’s blackstrap rum for the usual bourbon. A dash of the aperitif Aperol lends bitter complexity, while lime and grapefruit juices bolster the liquor’s citrusy notes and balance the mint syrup. 141 Broadway between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (no phone yet). $10.

Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Jamaican Julep at The Third Man

The julep gets Caribbean treatment at this botanically minded Alphabet City lair. Nutty and sweet Appleton 12-year-old rum is offset by bitter Cynar, an artichoke-based amaro. A few drops of Angostura bitters boost the spirits, while cane syrup and a small sprig of flowering mint lend sweetness and brightness to the dewy metal chalice. 116 Ave C at 7th St (212-598-1040). $12.

Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Kafir Lime Julep at Calyer

At this Latin American–inspired restaurant, chefs Andres Fernandez and Scott Edwards look to other regions for inspiration when it comes to their adult slushie. The pair collaborated on this tropical twist, referencing Fernandez’s Georgia background and Edwards’s travels through Southeast Asia, with rich Buffalo Trace bourbon and heady kafir lime syrup. For the stylings, they keep things traditional with a timeless julep cup and sprigs of mint. 92 Calyer St at Franklin St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (347-889-6323). $11.

Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Spanish Crown Julep at Maison Premiere

Juleps are a specialty of this New Orleans–style hipster haunt, with six rotating renditions served in cold pewter vessels in spring and summer. Barkeep Kelvin Uffre subs in smoky Del Maguey mescal for whiskey and infuses it with fragrant lemongrass. Bitter Suze gentian liquor offers herbal complexity, a smattering of blueberries provides fruitiness, and La Gitana manzanilla sherry supplies a winelike sweetness. 298 Bedford Ave at Grand St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-335-0446). $13.

Cheer on the horses with a Kentucky Derby tradition: the mint julep. While the cocktail—made of bourbon, sugar, mint and crushed ice—has Southern roots, plenty of bartenders are shaking it up in NYC. Here are five to quench your thirst.