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Mint Julep: the best recipe for the refreshing Kentucky Derby cocktail

Total time: 5 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 1 person
By Cookist

With its sweet, fresh minty flavor, the mint julep is a fantastic cocktail to sip this summer. This classic bourbon cocktail is famous for being the trademark drink of the Kentucky Derby, an annual horse race based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Like a mojito, the mint julep is made with muddled mint leaves and simple syrup, but the mint julep is made with bourbon and doesn't contain any lime juice. Nevertheless, it's wonderfully refreshing and perfect for cooling down on hot days.

At 28 percent alcohol, it's on the stronger side of the spectrum, making it a drink to savor. Traditionally, the mint julep is served in a silver julep cup, but you can also serve it in a rocks glass. No matter what option you go with, if you love mint, you'll love this cocktail!

Mint Julep Ingredients

The classic mint julep is made from bourbon, mint leaves, and simple syrup. Use a good-quality bourbon. There are only a few ingredients in the mint julep, and if you use cheap bourbon, you'll be able to taste it, and it won't taste great. Fresh mint is the only option for mint juleps – it's the perfect excuse to make use of your herb garden if you have one!

You'll also need crushed ice for this cocktail, which you can make at home without a machine.

How to Make a Mint Julep

Whether you're hosting a Kentucky Derby party or just want a beautifully balanced, refreshing drink to sip on, it's incredibly easy to make a mint julep. Start by placing the mint leaves and simple syrup into a rocks glass. Gently muddle the leaves with your muddler.

Pour the bourbon into the glass, then pack it with crushed ice. Stir the cocktail until the glass is frosted on the outside. Add more ice, then garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy!

Tips for the Best Mint Juleps

To crush ice at home, wrap the ice cubes in a clean towel and bash them with a hammer.

Add a dash of Angostura bitters to tie your julep together.

For an ultra-refreshing mint julep, add a spritz of lemon or lime.

Mint Julep Variations

Love mint juleps? There are plenty of ways to jazz up your juleps, so you never get bored.

Add frozen cherries, strawberries, or blackberries to make a berry julep; add some chocolate liqueur to make a chocolate mint julep; use gin instead of bourbon, or try different herbs like rosemary, basil, or sage.

Make a virgin mint julep by swapping out the bourbon for ginger ale.

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Mint leaves
simple syrup
1/4 ounce
2 ounces
mint sprig, for garnish


Add the mint leaves and simple syrup to a rocks glass. Gently muddle the leaves.

Pour in the bourbon. Pack the glass with crushed ice.

Stir the cocktail until the outside of the glass frosts.

Add more ice, then garnish with a sprig of mint.


For a truly authentic mint julep serve the cocktail in a julep cup.

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