Whether it's Kentucky Derby Day or just the end of a long day, come see why the Mint Julep is the Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby. Sweet notes balance already tasty bourbon in this quesiential summer favorite. Learn how to make a mint julep at home with this easy to follow recipe.
Mikes Recipe Rundown
- Taste: The strength of a good bourbon is balanced with the refreshing life of muddled fresh mint and the sweetness of simple syrup.
- Strength: A true Mint Julep is pretty strong. We're dealing with bourbon here after all - which is not for the meek!
- Difficulty - Beginner: This is a super simple drink to put together. No blender (affiliate), shakers or anything crazy here. Just a couple of simple tools and a quick stir bring this together.
- Pros: This is one of those drinks that everybody dives into one day a year, but nobody really knows how to make. Master it and impress your friends at your next Kentucky Derby party!
- Cons: If you like a drink with a more subtle taste of alcohol, this isn't for you. My wife is one of those who likes her alcohol to taste like a bunch of fruit with only a touch of kickback. This is not the drink for her.
- Would I make it again? Absolutely! This is a great way to enjoy a great bourbon!
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Nerd Chef's Tips and Tricks
- This drink is primarily bourbon, so get a good one. You should use a bourbon that you would enjoy if you just had it neat (or over the rocks) with nothing else added. For me, that's Maker's Mark. Maker's delivers full taste, with notes of rye and spice with a butterscotch finish. It pairs great against the freshness of the mint and sweetness of your simple syrup.
- The biggest drawback of this for most people may be the strength of the bourbon. For my wife, it's a double dose of simple syrup and a tad less bourbon. Even then, she may sneak in a splash of grenadine to really make it fruity.
- If you're hosting a Kentucky derby party, let people make their own. Simply lay out all the tools (in an adults only area, obviously) and the instructions on how to make it. Just be prepared to demo a few along the way, but this is a great way to let people build their own while you settle in your final bets.
What do I need to make a mint julep?
You'll want a set of nice whiskey glasses (affiliate) to make your drinks in. If you're feeling super fancy you can get a nice mint julep cup to impress your friends.
A cocktail muddler (affiliate) is must to release all the oils from your fresh mint leaves. From there, it's a good bourbon and, some simple syrup and a cocktail stirrer (affiliate) to bring it all together!
Check out some of our other great recipes, like cajun shrimp and grits, smoked gouda mac and cheese, chicken tikka masala, or 29-hour, super tender sous vide chuck roast. Or, try one of my wife's favorites, my Bacon Lamb Sliders which are 100% flavor-bombs. .
When to make a Mint Julep
This is the go-to drink on The First Saturday in May. Why? That's Kentucky Derby Day. Kentucky's prized beverage is their bourbon, and for good reason. They show it off with this awesome concoction.
But Mint Julep's aren't only good on Kentucky Derby Day? This is a great summer drink, perfect for lounging by the pool or kicking it in the backyard on a warm afternoon. It's cool and refreshing. And if you simple need to forget about life's troubles, the bourbon is rather effective!
How to make a Mint Julep
Grab a nice whiskey glass (affiliate) or julep cup. Add 3 fresh mint leaves to bottom of glass and squeeze/pour in 1 oz simple syrup. Use a cocktail muddler (affiliate) to muddle the leaves. To do this press down lightly against the leaves and give a few gentle twists.
Add in crushed ice and fill cup. Pour bourbon over ice. Use a cocktail stirrer (affiliate) to mix it all together. Garnish with another sprig of fresh mint and enjoy!
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- Yield: 1 glass 1x
Bourbon, mint and simple syrup. It's a simple drink that is a must have on Kentucky Derby day or when lounging on a summer day!
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 3 fresh mint leaves
- crushed leaves
Add mint leaves and simple syrup in whiskey glass or mint julep cup and muddle with a cocktail muddler. Fill glass with crushed ice. Pour bourbon over top. Stir with a cocktail stirrer and enjoy!
Use a bourbon that you would drink straight. I enjoy Maker's Mark with this.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Mixing
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Bourbon, Kentucky Derby Drink, Whiskey Cocktail