Grab your best bottle of bourbon, some fresh mint, and whip up a tasty Mint Julep! Served at Kentucky Derby parties, but equally refreshing all year long!
Springtime brings with it all kinds of happy feelings, doesn’t it? The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the brunch crowd is back it. While it may not scream summer to you the way a Mint Mojito does, this Mint Juelp is definitely a refreshing sip on a warm day! Made with only 3 ingredients – 4 if you count ice – it’s a simple 18th-century creation that is most often enjoyed during the Kentucky Derby, a horse race and the first leg of the American Triple Crown.
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Did you know Mint Juleps were actually originated long before the first Kentucky Derby but still got their start in the South? In the 1700s, it was actually prescribed to people with sour stomachs as a type of relief, thanks to the mint! I feel like their recipe for mint juleps may have been slightly different than the modern one we drink today. But the Southerners have it right with this cocktail and my favorite Spiked Mango Iced Tea!
The julep is loosely related to a family of drinks called “smashes” (other examples are the brandy smash, the mojito, and whiskey versions like my Blackberry Peach Bourbon Smash), in which fresh mint and other ingredients are muddled or crushed to flavor the drink.
In the early days of the Derby, the mint julep was a cocktail exclusive to the wealthy. Ice is one of the main ingredients in the drink and was hard to come by before the 20th century. Juleps are also traditionally served in a silver cup – an uncommon possession to most. Luckily, now you don’t have to have a fat bank account to enjoy these strong drinks!
What is in a Mint Julep?
There are only 4 simple mint julep ingredients:
- Bourbon Whiskey
- Fresh Mint Leaves
- Sugar (either simple syrup, agave, or maple syrup)
- Crushed Ice
How To Make A Mint Julep
First, place mint leaves and simple syrup (or powdered or granulated sugar, agave, honey, etc.) in a julep cup or highball glass. Muddle the leaves gently to release the mint oils.
Next, add the bourbon and fill the cup almost to the top with crushed ice. Stir briskly with a cocktail spoon until the glass is cold and frosty.
Finally, top the cup with a dome of crushed ice. Garnish each drink with a sprig of mint and a lemon peel or wedge.
What Are Some Other Twists On A Mint Julep recipe?
Making your own custom mint julep is so easy – they’re such a simple, basic drink, that any flavor you add to it will be delicious!
- Strawberry Mint Julep – Muddle some fresh strawberries with your mint, then mix away for a pretty pink drink!
- Mint Julep Iced Tea – Wanna give some substance to your cocktail? Cut the amount of bourbon in half and stir in a cup of black tea. You’ll be able to sip them all day!
- Vanilla Bean Mint Julep – Add a bit of vanilla extract or the scrapings on a vanilla bean to your cocktail for a smooth, almost dessert-like drink.
- Champagne Julep – If you’re craving something a little fancier for your Derby drinkin’, splash a bit of your favorite champagne in. It mellows out the bourbon a bit, in case you’re not a huge fan of the strong whiskey flavor.
Whiskey lovers will adore these recipes!
Tools used to make this Mint Julep recipe
Jigger: Every home bartender should have a jigger for measuring their cocktail ingredients. This one has a no-slip grip and is marked with increment measuring lines so you can make the perfect cocktail every time.
Muddler: This classic bar tool is a must-have for incorporating fresh ingredients into your drinks. This muddler also comes with a bar spoon for stirring your cocktail to perfection.
Julep Cup: Serve your Derby drinks in style with this traditional cup!
Cocktail Spoon: When you want your drinks stirred, not shaken, reach for this cocktail spoon! Designed to perfectly combined your favorite drinks!
- 15-20 mint leaves plus more for garnish
- 1 ounce simple syrup or sugar or agave
- 3 ounces high-quality bourbon whiskey
- Crushed ice
- Lemon peel for garnish
- Place the mint and simple syrup (or alternative sweetener) in a julep cup or highball glass. Muddle gently to bruise the mint leaves.
- Add the bourbon, then fill the cup completely with crushed ice. Stir well with a cocktail spoon until the glass is frosty.
- Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome. Garnish with mint & a lemon peel or wedge.