The Mint Julep is a classic bourbon cocktail and the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. This simple recipe creates a refreshing drink to accompany you during happy hour, but it’s easier to mix at home than you think.
Check out this guide to learn how to mix a classic Bourbon Mint Julep like a skilled bartender.
The key Mint Julep ingredients include:
- 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon
- 1/2 ounces of simple syrup
- 10-15 fresh mint leaves (or 4-5 fresh mint sprigs)
- Extra mint sprig for garnish
Once you gather them, follow these steps:
- Add the simple syrup and mint leaves to a julep cup or another type of tall glass.
- Muddle the mint and syrup to release the oils.
- Pour the bourbon whiskey and fill the glass with crushed ice.
- Stir to combine, and garnish with a mint sprig.
A muddler helps release the natural oils of the mint or any other kind of herb you use in cocktails. This helps infuse the drink with a lot more flavor and gives your Mint Juleps their signature taste.
If you don’t have a muddler, you can use the back of the spoon to gently crush the mint leaves. Don’t be too harsh on them, though. The leaves should be intact, not shredded, so just apply enough pressure until you see them release oils.
The Mint Julep comes with around 160 calories per serving, but it depends on how much simple syrup you use or if you opt for another sweetener.
But this classic cocktail packs a punch because of the tall shot of bourbon. If you use an 80-proof bottle, you’ll get around 28% ABV, so it’s best to take your time enjoying this drink.
Take your mint julep to the next level with these simple serving tricks:
- Choose top-shelf bourbon: A mint julep is essentially a shot of bourbon infused with a mint-simple syrup flavor. It’s best to opt for a bottle you can enjoy on its own since there are no potent ingredients to mask it.
- Serve in that silver cup: The Mint Julep is traditionally served in julep cups, which enhance the serving experience. Though you can also use a highball glass, if you can, opt for the traditional serving glass to go for a classic Kentucky Derby theme.
- Use sugar for a stronger drink: You can swap the simple syrup for two white sugar cubes and make a stronger mixed drink. You’ll need to muddle the leaves until all the sugar dissolves.
- Prepare in advance: Muddling on the go can take some time, so if you want to make your dinner party smoother, you can use a small saucepan and infuse your simple syrup with mint.
Here are some other mixed drinks to try:
- Basil Julep: Swap the fresh mint with basil to get another refreshing and simple cocktail.
- Pineapple Julep: Use pineapple instead of sugar or simple syrup for a more tropical drink you can enjoy at a pool party.
- Gin Julep: Use your favorite gin to make a milder mint julep served over crushed ice.
Fresh mint, simple syrup, and bourbon make a surprisingly delicious combination. Though it may seem complex because of the muddled ingredients, the mint julep is easy to mix at home, as long as you don’t rush the process.
Try it out tonight and enjoy a fresh whiskey cocktail like no other.